The other reason I haven’t been blogging much recently is that my meals have either been fairly mundane or fairly unsuccessful. This does not lend itself to food blogging as well as you might think. One of the less successful dishes in recent times was traditional Osso Bucco with Risotto Milanese. The Osso Bucco actually had a pretty good flavour, it just turns out that neither Andrew nor I actually like that particular cut of meat. Live and learn… The risotto, alleged to feed two people, was ridiculously abundant, leading to the question of Leftovers and what to do with them.
You can make this risotto cake with any leftover risotto at all. It’s really easy and can be eaten hot or cold, depending on whim, and makes useful picnic or lunchbox food, as it is quite sturdy once cooked. We’re having it for lunch today and Tuesday, with assorted tiny vegetables and hummus. And probably chocolate cake, but who’s complaining? It’s pretty basic – almost bland – but you can add *anything* to it, which makes it an excellent blank slate dish. See variations for ideas!
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(Why are you shopping? This is leftover risotto!)600 g leftover risotto 3 eggs 90 g mozzarella seasonings (a herbed salt is good here) a handful of breadcrumbs olive oil
Now what will you do with it?
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Grease a 20cm springform tin with a little olive oil, and sprinkle breadcrumbs over the bottom and sides. Tap gently (over the sink) to remove excess crumbs – you’re aiming to have a nice little breadcrumb layer all over the tin.
Put your leftover (and cold) risotto in a bowl, and break in the eggs. Mix them in well.
Chop the mozzarella into little cubes and add to the risotto mix. Stir everything together well. Scrape into the prepared tin, and press down to flatten and compact. Sprinkle a thin layer of breadcrumbs over the top, and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until it’s golden and set – you should be able to poke it with your finger and have the cake bounce back a little. Don’t burn your finger doing this.
Cut into wedges and put into your lunchbox for tomorrow, along with a salad or raw vegetables.
You can do almost anything with this. You can add any herbs you like, or roasted peppers, pancetta, mushrooms, asparagus – go wild! Or use a risotto which already contained some of these things.
In terms of quantities, I trust you noticed that the recipe is easily divisible by three, so you can make it with 400g or 200g of risotto – whatever you have leftover. And you don’t have to be absolutely precise, either. Two eggs would probably hold up to 500g of risotto together just fine, especially with a little extra cheese added in. Just make sure you have a suitably-sized baking tin. You can even use muffin cups, if you like! Or you could go the whole ‘Suppli al telefono’ route, and make little balls filled with mozzarella and covered with breadcrumbs, and deep-fry them. Or bake them drizzled with olive oil – this works surprisingly well.
Making this gluten-free is quite straightforward; if you don’t have gluten-free breadcrumbs, any rice or corn-based cereal can be crumbled up to give you a nice crispy crust. Ground or crushed nuts might work, too. Making it dairy-free (assuming your risotto was dairy-free in the first place, of course) is just a matter of skipping the mozzarella and adding the flavoring ingredient of your choice to the mix instead.
I don’t think you can veganise this very readily, because you do need the eggs to make it into a cake and not a baked-dry risotto. But fear not, O vegans – there are awesome vegan things to do with leftover risotto too! My favourite thing is getting a fennel bulb and separating it out into its hard leaves (keeping the stems attached), and using each leaf as a ‘bowl’ of sorts for a scoop of risotto, with the stem as a handle. Add whatever flavourings you like, top with breadcrumbs or ground nuts, and bake until golden – maybe 20 minutes? Alternatively, you can stuff it into capsicums or tomatoes, or roll it up in silverbeet or cabbage leaves. And I’m sure you have even better ideas.
What this dish is not and never can be is low GI – arborio rice (used for making risotto) has a very high glycemic index, which is why I don’t make risotto very often – I’d rather save my high GI moments for dessert.