Thursday, September 26, 2013

Risotto Cakes with Pine Nuts

This dish is a little time intensive, but the resulting little risotto cakes are an elegant addition to an upcoming fall dinner party. I served with Gardein chicken for the mock-meat lovers in my household.

  • 1 and 1/4 cups water
  • 28 ounces vegan chicken broth (such as Imagine)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 and 1/4 cups uncooked Arborio rice*
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts**
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup white cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1. Combine the water and broth in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, but do not boil.  Reduce heat and keep warm over low heat.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and onion; saute for 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in 1/2 cup of the warm broth mixture and cook until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.

4. Begin adding the remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, while stirring constantly and waiting for each portion to absorb before adding the next - you'll need anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes.

5. Remove the rice mixture from heat, and stir in the parsley, pine nuts, salt, and black pepper.  Spread the rice mixture onto a baking sheet and chill for 20 minutes.

6. Divide the rice mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping into 1/2-inch thick patties.  Place the cornmeal in a shallow bowl and dredge the patties in the cornmeal.

Note: If you have leftover white cornmeal and need ideas, I've got you covered.

7. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 4 of the patties and cook for 4 minutes.  Turn over carefully and cook for an additional 4 minutes.  Repeat with an additional tablespoon olive oil and the remaining patties.

*If you don't have Arborio rice on hand, any short-grain rice will work. In fact, I was about 1/4 cup shy on the Arborio tonight, so made up the difference with sushi rice.

**Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir or shake the nuts frequently to prevent them from burning, then add to the recipe as directed.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1 risotto cake), Calories 229

Tasting Notes:
The risotto turned out quite well, both in terms of taste and texture - I particularly loved the occasional crunch of a pine nut, the freshness from the parsley, and the earthy mushrooms. I would, however, use less onion, and also chop the mushrooms finely instead of slicing them. Unfortunately it was tough to get these little patties to come together right, and I'd tweak the preparation a little next time. First, I recommend overcooking the risotto slightly, so the mixture is quite dry, in which case the patties would shape together better. I'd also stir white cornmeal into the mixture as a binder, then use a second coating of cornmeal for the exterior breading, in which case these would hold up better during cooking and flipping over. If you don't mind a slightly messy presentation, the taste will still be worth it as is. Close to a "4" for taste, but minus points for presentation and ease of preparation.


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