Not Your Standard Rice Cakes

There were about two cups of risotto leftover from our meal the other night, and I decided to use it to make some crispy risotto cakes with a tangy yogurt dipping sauce. Since I still had a chunk of mozzarella remaining from our pizzas as well, I thought it might be fun to stuff the cakes with some gooey cheese.

This was a fun meal. The risotto cakes were very crunchy outside and creamy inside, with the added bonus of melty cheese when we cracked them open. I served them on a bed of beet green shreds sauteed with lots of onions (and a few red pepper flakes for that capricious heat, as Mario Batali would say), accompanied with a dollop of thick homemade yogurt dressed up with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and garlic. At this size, they made a delicious main course for dinner, but bite-sized, cheese-filled fried risotto balls would make a fun appetizer for a crowd. I also suspect you could use just about any cheese that complements your risotto, from chevre to cheddar to creamy fontina.

Cheese-Filled Risotto Cakes with Sun-dried Tomato Dip

Leftover risotto, chilled
Mozzarella cheese, cut into 1″ square slices (one for every quarter-cup of risotto, or just shred the lot)
Flour, seasoned with garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper
1 egg, well beaten with 1 T water
Olive oil
Sun-dried Tomato Yogurt Dip (method below)

Divide the risotto into roughly quarter-cup portions; flatten each into a sort of pancake and place a hunk of cheese in the center, then completely surround the cheese with the risotto and form it into a little patty. Coat the patty in the flour, dusting off the excess; dip both sides in the egg, then coat firmly in breadcrumbs. Repeat the process with all of your remaining risotto and cheese.

Pour enough olive oil in a nonstick skillet to coat the bottom and heat it over medium heat. Gently add the risotto cakes (I used a 12″ skillet and could cook all seven of my patties at one time) and cook until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Remove briefly to a paper towel to blot some of the excess oil, then serve hot, with sun-dried tomato and yogurt dip. (If you are not able to cook all of your risotto cakes at once, heat the oven to 200F and keep them warm until ready to serve; you have to keep that mozzarella melty!)

Sun-dried Tomato Yogurt Dip

1/2 C plain, thick yogurt (mine was drained homemade yogurt)
4 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, minced
2 T fresh basil, minced or shredded
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 T olive oil

Combine all the dip ingredients to your taste and stir well. Cover and allow flavors to meld for at least an hour, preferably.

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