Monday, April 4, 2011

Meatless Monday: Sun Dried Tomato Risotto Cakes

Pardon these awful pictures, I took these weeks ago and I was probably really really hungry. Because I'm always hungry. And that's the sucky part about food blogging--delayed gratification for the sake of pictures. Besides, I'm scheduled to get my new camera in 3 weeks, hurrah!

I have a love/hate relationship with Giada de Laurentiis.  There's just something about her that just grinds my gears. Perhaps it's that fact that her head is a skosh too big for her teen little body. Or that she appears to have ten too many teeth, which are all fully displayed every time she opens her mouth. I don't know about you, but every time she smiles, I always think of the shark exhibit you would see in a museum, where you're shown the multiple rows of teeth inside the shark's mouth [I'm just sayin'...]. If it's not her absurdly toothy smile, then it's definitely the subtle, but undeniable element of sex appeal that is ever present in shows--largely via the gratuitous use of pastel colored v-neck tops to display her disproportionately bountiful cleavage.  I can't fault her for capitalizing on her looks, however, I am a firm believer that in this great nation of ours--the fattest in the world*, I might add--that when it comes to food, you don't need to sex it up to sell it.  But in spite of all of my issues with her, I can't seem to pull myself away from the TV when she's on. She makes the type of food that I want to eat--simple, unfussy, and delicious, and at the end of the day, what matters most to my inner fat bastard is the food! Besides, my sources tell me that she's very wrinkly in person, and if the opportunity presented itself, I would totally dine at one of her contrived dinner parties at her beach side home in California. Because I'm sure she really is nice and not at all as condescending as she sometimes seems on TV.

Because I'm all about the food, it should come as no surprise that I own Giada's Everyday Italian Cookbook. One of my favorites recipes to make is Risotto, it's creamy, delicious, and one of the few times where I can cook with butter with zero guilt.  With its simplistic virtue, risotto lends itself to countless interpretations, and is the gift that keeps on giving. Supposedly, you can't reheat left over risotto because it loses it looses its creamy texture. In some regards this is true, but that hasn't stopped me from eating risotto for 4 days in a row before. But I finally decided to try my hand at risotto cakes, which uses left overs, just to switch things up, and follow the rules for once in my life.

First you make a basic risotto, to which I added chopped sun dried tomatoes.

Basic Risotto with Sun Dried Tomatoes (Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis, Everyday Italian)
Print this Recipe!

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp butter
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cup Arborio rice**
1/2 cup Dry White Wine
3 tbsp Sun Dried Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt, adjust to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, adjust to taste


In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the broth and keep hot over low heat. In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Add onion and tomatoes and sauté until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes.

Add the rice and stir to coat with butter. Add the wine and simmer until almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time. Stir constantly and allow each addition to absorb before adding the next, until rice is tender but still firm, about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, remaining butter, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, and eat to your heart's desire. I certainly did. And then a day or two later, I upped the ante.

stir baby, stir!

To make the risotto cakes, I simply added some chicken broth to the left over risotto, formed it into palmed sized patties,  and coated them in breadcrumbs. Seriously, that's all I did. Typically, most risotto cake recipes call for adding and egg or two, but I didn't see the need for it. I then lightly seared the risotto cakes in a heavy skillet in olive oil, until they were golden browned and warmed through.

Risotto Cakes

1 Cup Cold Risotto
1/3 cup reduced sodium chicken broth (remember kids, salt kills, black folks especially)
1/2 cup Italian Breadcrumbs
2 tbsp Olive Oil (extra virgin, always)

Combine chicken broth and cold risotto in a bowl. Using a large serving spoon for measure, form spoon fulls of risotto mixture into palmed size patties. Pour breadcrumbs onto a separate plate, coat each patty evenly with breadcrumbs, tapping lightly to remove any excess. Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in a heavy skillet. When oil is hot, add patties and sear about 3 minutes on each side, or until coating is golden brown and crisp. Remove from heat, and serve immediately.

Risotto cakes are crisp on the outside, and rich and creamy on the inside. That's what I call a win-win.

*based on Sept. 2010 report, Obesity and the Economics of Prevention: Fit not Fat from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. Data based on evaluation of 33 countries with advanced economies and for which long-term data was available, of which the United States was ranked first.

**You really must use Arborio Rice, substituting with regular short grained rice will not produce the same texture or taste.


  1. Never had risotto, but anything buttery and fried gets my vote of approval!

  2. I love risotto. I just had arancitas (or whatever they are called) at an Italian restaurant two weeks ago. They are deep fried risotto cakes filled with ham and cheese. Good? Yes. Healthy? No.

    I met Giada for about 3 minutes and she was very pleasant. She seemed like a "keep it real" kinda gal.

  3. you've never had risotto? Oh my dear, I must remedy that for you soon :)

  4. Sometimes health is just non important, and when it comes to deep fried risotto cakes, it definitely doesn't matter. That sounds delicious

  5. when i start cooking again i think ill so meatless mondays (i dont eat red meat but a vegetarian day seems like a good idea).

    I like Giada, I read an interview with her in Redbook and seemed like a smart as Keeley said "keep it real" woman.

  6. Those look amazing. Risotto scares me. Maybe I should stop being such a wuss and try to make it!

  7. Don't be intimated by risotto, it's pretty straight forward. Contrary to what you've heard, you don't have to stir endlessly the whole time, and it is soo yummy.



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