Aug 7, 2013

Cheddar Risotto Cakes

As much as I like to advocate risotto, steamy, creamy and just off the skillet, there's not much to say about it's leftovers, a sticky mess with as much appeal as the dirt that follows the snow, except for two words, risotto cakes. 
And the world more than rights itself and all is good again. It’s a wonder how there were leftovers from the mushroom scallion risotto in the first place.

I think of these cheddar risotto cakes as the lazy alternative to making arancini, those fantastic deep fried rice balls that are as laborious to make as they are awesome to eat. 

Well, with these lightly fried patties, you get the crunchiness outside, the creaminess inside, the pungent flavor of the sharp cheddar together with the mellowed flavors of the risotto itself, and it takes about fifteen minutes to have them on the table, ready to eat. If you add the little fresh salad on top, like I did here, add five more minutes. 
That’s what I call a good use of cold rice, or the reason why I actually love to have leftovers. For dishes like this one.

I remember I had two very favorites when I was a kid, which I always said I could eat in any type, shape or form: chicken and rice. I’ve changed my mind about the former, thanks my evolved palate for that, the idea of liking dry cold chicken today makes me cringe, but rice is pretty much holding it’s ground through the years, a lot of years btw.

I base my rice consumption on one of my mother’s emergency meals, white rice with fried egg on top, with a runny yolk that coated the white grains and made the whole thing better than having french fries for dinner.
Well, not quite since the ultimate combination was french fries with an egg on top, sort of eggs and soldiers, where the latter are homemade french fries, and yes, it doesn't get much better than that for a kid, or a grown up with a junk food craving.

I still like rice to this day, probably all types and forms. A risotto cake with an egg on top? Interesting concept. Never tried it though, yet.

When I’m in the kitchen, my brain and it’s two hemispheres usually have a little chat, the creative one focusing only in the recipe I want to make, and the reasonable one trying to come up with a balance of sorts. Like the fruit I eat after I realize I just had buttered toast for lunch. The little fresh salad on top of the cheddar risotto cakes compliments the starchy, buttery crunchiness of the rice patties.

Which is the best risotto for these cakes? The one you like. I've used almost all the ones in the recipes section of this blog, roasted beets and goat cheese, radicchio and provolone and mushroom scallion risotto. Just make sure it’s very well seasoned.
I usually add a sharp cheese to make them more flavorful. It never fails.


This is a no-recipe recipe, depending largely on how much risotto you have left. The amounts given are estimate. Feel free to add a fresh chopped herb, a different cheese or even a grated vegetable like carrot.

Makes about 4 small patties


1 cup leftover risotto
4 Tbs grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 Tbs butter
½ cup cherry tomatoes
Sprouts to garnish
Lime wedges
Olive oil

Put leftover risotto in a bowl, add grated cheese and mix well. Make four patties with the cold risotto.
On a shallow plate put seasoned flour and lightly coat the cakes, lightly shaking off excess.
Melt butter in a skillet over low heat. Add risotto cakes and cook slowly, until very crisp, about 4 minutes on each side. If browning too quickly lower the heat. You want the heat to reach the center of the cakes and melt the cheese.
Meanwhile, cut tomatoes in half, season with salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and lime juice.
When the cakes are done, put them in a platter or wooden board, top with tomatoes and sprouts. Drizzle some of the juice from the tomatoes.
Serve immediately.

Today's 5 related recipes worth looking at:

Pistachio Arancini from Sippity Sup
Peas and Asparagus Risotto from Playful Cooking
Calas - Sweet Rice Fritters from One Perfect Bite


  1. husband is not a fan of risotto. That leaves me with a whole bunch of leftovers when I make a batch. Not a problem anymore. Oh the crunchy, cheese-y goodness of these cakes.

  2. Cheese and risotto?! sounds fab! :)

  3. paula - what perfect timing! if i can stop eating the risotto i just made, i shall try these! i am afriad of deep frying (burning the house down) so these are much more attractive to me. thank you so much for a delicious idea!

  4. These are amazing, Paula! So pretty and I love the contrast of crunchy and soft. Besides your description and recipe, your photos make me crave your gems even more =)

    P.s. You described the perfect egg on top of white sticky rice - the best! I'm sure french fries are yummy, too.

  5. Wow, would I love to be eating these…love risotto!

  6. I love risotto cakes! I tried them for the first time in Milan about 20 years ago and just loved them. They always seem a little high-maintenance for me to make myself, but I really should try.

  7. Oh yes, SO much easier than arancini, and these actually look more delicious to me! Beautiful photos!

  8. These are exactly the type of recipes I love. My two brain hemispheres negotiate with each other constantly too! :)

  9. How fabulous is this?? You are so right about risotto leftovers. Not appealing. But these cakes look FANTASTIC!

  10. Food waste is a ongoing battle of food blogging. It needs more discussion. You have transformed leftovers into a superlative dinner! Pairing the Risotto Cakes with a salad is charming! Bravo to blogging about leftovers!

  11. I don't know why my mother never made rice but I love it in all its forms. Your risotto cakes sound wonderful and I love your presentation.

  12. Gorgeous Pictures! Cheddar Risotto Cakes sound so delicious and I love the fresh tomatoes and sprouts on top.

  13. Paula,
    I love risotto cakes! and love it when leftovers turn into something wonderful and unplanned like this. . love the addition of the cherry tomatoes and sprouts. If you haven't noticed, I love to stack my food. . something about seeing the layers and then getting a little taste of everything when taking a bite. Perfection. Love this!

  14. What's not to like? I do something similar with leftover mashed potatoes. These are awesome, Paula!

  15. I love your risotto cakes Paula! You captured them beautifully. I can eat all four patties. Delicious! :)

  16. These risotto cakes are very appetizing and creative, Paula! I love the pictures as well!

  17. That's such a brilliant idea to use up risotto! If I am stuck with leftovers I love to take the opportunity to make arancini, even though those little devils will make you work for them. These look like a great alternative!

  18. Brilliant idea! Such a creative way to use up left over risotto. Love the photos as well.

  19. I'm getting here a little late, but not too late to make these, and those peach trifles for dessert, which I'll make with fresh peaches. Great recipes and love your photography!

  20. These risotto patties look so GOOD, Paula. We are fans of rice recipes, and this would make a great lunch with a large portion of summer salad.

  21. Agreed that these little patties look really delicious! I wish I could have some for lunch now!

  22. Paula, risotto never looked this good & ahahahah two hemispheres having a conversation….I wish mine would more often…for balance. :)

  23. Gorgeous, Paula! And I would have NEVER thought of using cheddar in risotto. Now I will! The only downside to this recipe is that we never have leftover risotto. We are both quite piggy when it comes to the wavy, creamy dish... Even when we make extra for leftovers, we end up eating it all. So, for next time, I will work on my/our self-control, and save some to make these! ~ David

  24. Great recipes, much simpler than arancini. Guess I will be making extra risotto.

  25. What a perfect use of leftover risotto! Like Cocoa and Lavender I haven't used cheddar in risotto (never seem to make it the same way twice :). But I'll definitely try it.

  26. Nothing about these cakes said that it was made from a left-overs! It looks so pretty and those burst of colors make it so appealing! Lovely post indeed.

  27. This is the perfect solution for those delicious leftovers! Thanks for sharing this creative recipe...



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