Risotto Cakes & Stuffed Mini Peppers

Risotto cakes are an easy way to revitalize your leftovers.

Yesterday I posted this recipe for Asparagus and Lemon Risotto, a recipe from My Italian Kitchen by MasterChef winner Luca Manfé. That recipe made enough risotto for about 4 people, which means Paul and I were left with about 2 cups of leftovers. Rather than reheat it and eat sub-par leftover risotto, I came up with a couple of ways to reuse it. (Arancini would probably be the classic application for risotto leftovers, but so far I haven’t tried making them!)

First, I’ll share my recipe for risotto cakes, which I’ve previously hinted at but never fully explained. It’s easiest to make the cakes with a plain risotto because add-ins can make it difficult to keep them together. However, with a little patience and some inventive spatula work, you can make asparagus risotto (or just about any other kind of risotto) work. Click here to skip to this recipe.

Risotto cakes are an easy way to revitalize your leftovers.
Risotto cakes are an easy way to revitalize your leftovers.

The second recipe is one I made up on the spot, which involves stuffing leftover risotto into mini bell peppers. I just signed up for a weekly produce delivery from a local farm and orchard, and my first box contained about 4 cups of these sweet little peppers, so I’ve been looking for different ways of using them. Skip to this recipe.

Without further ado:

Risotto Cakes

Serves 2 as written; scale up or down based on amount of risotto

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups leftover risotto
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp canola oil (or any combination of fats)
  • 2 eggs, poached and kept warm, optional
  • Salad greens, optional
  • Balsamic vinaigrette, optional (recipe follows)

Steps

  1. Prepare the salad greens and vinaigrette if using and set aside. Prepare the two poached eggs, if using: Bring a wide pot of water to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and poach the two whole eggs for about 3 minutes and 45 seconds, or as desired. Remove the eggs to a bowl of warm water and set aside.
  2. Prepare the risotto mixture. Separate the final egg, which will serve as the binder for the cakes. For two cups of risotto or less, I usually only need to use the white, but keep the yolk on hand just in case.
    Divide the egg and set the yolk aside; I usually don't need it.
    Divide the egg and set the yolk aside; I usually don’t need it.

    Beat the egg white briefly with a fork. Break up the leftover risotto with a spoon or fork and mix it with the egg white until well combined. The mixture should look wet but not runny, and a spoonful of rice should hold together.

    The mixture should be moist but not runny; the rice should clump together.
    The mixture should be moist but not runny; the rice should clump together.

    If the mixture seems too runny, you can add some grated Parmesan, breadcrumbs or even a little flour to help hold it together. If it’s too dry and the rice won’t stick together, beat the egg yolk and add it a little at a time until you get the right consistency.

  3. Heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat in a large cast iron or nonstick frying pan (I used a ceramic nonstick pan here). When the oil is hot, use an ice cream scoop or a large spoon to carefully drop about 1/3- to 1/2-cup scoops of risotto into the pan. I was able to make four equal scoops from my leftovers. Press down to form the mounds of risotto into disks.
    An ice cream scoop with a lever works great for portioning the cakes.
    An ice cream scoop with a lever works great for portioning the cakes.

    Form the risotto into round cakes once in the pan.
    Form the risotto into round cakes once in the pan.
  4. Now be patient. Let the risotto cakes cook undisturbed until you can slide them around as complete units the pan (if the cake is breaking apart or clumps of rice are falling off when you slide it, it’s not ready yet). This can take longer than you might think!
  5. When the cakes move easily and the bottoms are golden brown, carefully flip them over. Here’s my method, which is a little bit like dealing with very small frittatas: Position a large spatula on one side of the cake. Place a second spatula on the opposite side of the cake and wiggle it underneath. Quickly flip the cake onto the first spatula, then use the second to slide it off back into the pan. Push any bits of rice that have fallen off into the sides of the cake.

    I don't have any action shots of the flipping, because it's really tricky! Don't attempt before they're ready.
    I don’t have any action shots of the flipping, because it’s really tricky! Don’t attempt before they’re ready.
  6. Continue to cook until the second side is golden brown and the cakes are cooked through. Season the outsides with salt and pepper (optional, but it adds another dimension of flavor to the crispy exterior).

    Sprinkle the risotto cakes with a little salt and pepper (optional).
    Sprinkle the risotto cakes with a little salt and pepper (optional).
  7. If desired, serve the cakes topped with a poached egg alongside a green salad. Drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over the entire dish.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Steps

  1. Combine all ingredients in a carafe or other lidded container. Shake vigorously until combined.
  2. Store in the fridge for 4-5 days. Let the vinaigrette come to room temperature before serving.

 

Top a risotto cake or two with a poached egg and serve with a salad on the side. Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette over everything.
Top a risotto cake or two with a poached egg and serve with a salad on the side. Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette over everything.

The risotto cakes are crispy and salty on the outside, and creamy and cheesy in the middle. A poached egg on top adds additional richness, while the salad and acidic vinaigrette provide a nice contrasting pop of flavor.

 


 

If you’ve got less risotto leftover or just want something a little lighter, try these stuffed peppers instead:

Risotto-Stuffed Mini Peppers

Makes four pepper halves as written; scale up or down based on amount of risotto.

Ingredients

  • About 1/4 cup leftover risotto, any variety
  • 2 mini bell peppers, seeded and cut in half
  • About 2 tbsp dry, seasoned breadcrumbs

Steps

  1. Preheat a conventional oven to 350F. (You can also use a toaster oven.) Place the pepper halves skin-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  2. Fill each pepper half with about 1 tbsp of risotto.
  3. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top, pressing them gently into the filling.

    Place the peppers on a foil-lined pan in case rice spills out!
    Place the peppers on a foil-lined pan in case rice spills out!
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes until the peppers are hot and the breadcrumbs have browned. Baking time is approximate and based on my toaster oven; you may need to bake them longer in a conventional oven.

    The mini peppers add sweetness and a nice crunch to the creamy risotto.
    The mini peppers add sweetness and a nice crunch to the creamy risotto.

What other ways have you reused leftover risotto?

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