Meyer Lemon Risotto Cakes

January 24, 2011

Sometimes I am struck by the fact that having a food blog is kind of weird.  I take pictures of my dinners and my salads and my treats and I write about those things.  I put the pictures out there for anyone to see.  I love doing it and it is a big part of my life, but imagine explaining it to someone who has never read a food blog or doesn’t think finding the perfect chocolate cake is important.  Weird.

I bring this up because if I didn’t have a food blog, I would have been really happy about this dinner.  As is stands, I was happy but also crestfallen because I didn’t pay that much attention to measurements.  This is one of those “doing the very best with leftovers” and “planning ahead ” kind of meals – neither of which, I have no problem admitting, I am any good at.   In my haste, I did not weigh or measure or really even eyeball anything.  But because our dinner was good, because I got some decent photos, and because there was a truffle involved, I am going to soldier on.

Here is the deal.  I made risotto.  I had risotto left over.  I had a husband out of town.  I like to make dinners on Sundays, especially when he has been out of town, but am usually kind of worn out from the weekend.  In other words, I prefer not to start from square one.  In my foggy brain, I managed to realize early in the week that I would probably have leftover risotto and so bought things to compliment it.  Then I remembered that I don’t like leftover risotto unless it takes another form.  Like risotto cakes.

I stopped eating meat when I was 16 but I ate fish for another 4 years after that.  I remember going to the Bay Café on Lopez Island where they almost always have two fish specials.  One is salmon and one is halibut.  One has a side of rice cakes and the other has a side of potato cakes.  I would choose whichever fish had rice cakes as the side.  The Bay Café’s rice cakes, super savory, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, were to die for.  Once I really paid attention to that fact – that my diet was much more about side dishes than the “protein” – making the switch to full vegetarian was very easy.

I loved rice cakes then and I still love them.  In fact, I think I will always make more risotto than I need just so I can make these.  I make this very easy on myself by making sure I have very cold risotto and using a 3-inch biscuit cutter to mold them.  I find that little tool works best but I have also used a stainless steel measuring cup with good results.  If you try that, just run a little water in it every other cake or so, making sure they come out easily.

You can certainly pan-fry them either in olive oil or butter.  You will get more browning and a crunchier crust.  But the healthy me just can’t pan-fry something when I know I can bake it with almost as good results.  20 minutes in a 375º oven does a pretty nice job.

I was looking forward to this dinner almost as soon as the first round of the original risotto was in its resting place in the refrigerator.  And then I bought a truffle at the farmers’ market.  Did you know that in addition to having chanterelles and matsuke and lobster and porcini mushrooms growing in our half of the state, we also have truffles?  This little mushroom made me very happy.  If you have ever bought Italian or French truffles, you might be amazed that this little guy, the size of a chocolate truffle, cost me only $3.  Now, my first black truffle was shaved over a plate of homemade pasta in Paris on my 34th birthday.  This Washington guy did not have the potency but did have a nice flavor.  I would say it certainly brought a special something to a plate of leftovers.

Meyer Lemon Risotto Cakes
Dana Treat Original

If you make the risotto recipe below, you can serve 2 with it and then 2 making cakes with the leftovers another day.  Approximately.  You can, of course, use this method with any leftover risotto.  The mushrooms I served alongside can be found here.

Olive oil
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
5 cups vegetable stock
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
Zest and juice of 2 Meyer lemons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parsley or chives to garnish

Bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Turn the heat to low and keep warm.

Put a wide shallow pot over medium heat.  Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot and then add the shallots along with a large pinch of salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until they start to soften, but before they brown.  Add the rice and stir well to coat the rice with oil and the shallots.  Stir in the thyme and the lemon zest (not the juice).  Pour in the wine, another large pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper.  Stir constantly until the wine is absorbed.

Ladle one cup of stock into the pot and stir constantly until it is absorbed.  Ladle in another two cups, give it a vigorous stir as you bring the rice to a boil.  Turn the heat to low and cover the pot.  Allow to cook for 15 minutes, stirring it twice during that time.

Remove the cover and add another cup of stock plus the lemon juice and peas.  Stir vigorously until the stock is absorbed.  When it is about half absorbed, add the Parmesan and continue to stir.  At this point, you may not need any more stock.  If the rice is too al dente for your taste, add a bit more and continue to cook.  Also, if you prefer your risotto brothier, add more.  The  risotto will continue to thicken as it sits so if you aren’t serving it right away, add more liquid than you think it will need to prevent it from drying out.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve in wide bowls garnished with chives and more Parmesan.  Allow the unused portion to cool completely, then cover and place in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

For the Cakes
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a 3-inch (or smaller) biscuit cutter on the baking sheet and pack it full of the cold risotto.  Smooth the top.  Remove the biscuit cutter and repeat with the remaining risotto.  (If you are using a measuring cup, you will need to pop the cake out of the cup.)

Sprinkle each risotto cake with a nice dusting of Parmesan and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and the cake is heated through, about 25 minutes.  Garnish with shavings of fresh truffle – if you are lucky.


  1. this looks like the perfect dinner to me! And with the addition of that shaved truffle – OMG heaven!!!

    Comment by Gaby — January 24, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  2. this looks absolutely FANTASTIC. I can’t believe that truffle was only 3 bucks. Wanna ship me some?

    p.s.- your pictures are gorgeous. I especially love the side view of the risotto cake!

    Comment by tracy — January 24, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

  3. I am with you on the food blog weirdness! I had a group over for the football game yesterday and did a build your own chili bowl set up with many, many options. Everyone’s bowl was very different from the next, so of course I was going around taking pictures of people’s bowls when they were trying to eat. Talk about a weirdo.

    I am glad you posted this, it gives me all sorts of ideas. Mouth-watering photos!

    Comment by Sarah S. — January 24, 2011 @ 10:21 pm

  4. $3. for a truffle? So cheap, never heard of that!
    Gorgeous photos, looks beautiful.

    Comment by stacey snacks — January 24, 2011 @ 10:30 pm

  5. I could totally see myself making a whole batch of risotto, not eating any of it the first day, and then saving it to make a full batch of these the next day. With plenty of leftovers.

    I wish I could find Meyer lemons around here! Oy.

    And yeah food blogging is totally weird. But it’s also probably one of the best things that ever happened to me. So I accept it. I’m weird.

    Comment by Joanne — January 25, 2011 @ 1:01 am

  6. Risotto cakes sound so good. I have made them informally, but not like this. I must remember to try this soon!

    Comment by Anna — January 25, 2011 @ 1:18 am

  7. Fantastic post and check out your truffle for $3! I don’t think anyone is getting over that. Great photos.

    Comment by Nina — January 25, 2011 @ 4:34 am

  8. I had to laugh about the food blog wierdness – my brother-in-law was scrolling through my camera photos the other night and came across some food ones – “you take pictures of your potatoes” he cried. His sister responded for me – “it’s for her blog”. Glad I’m not the only wierdo out here.

    And these risotto cakes – yum!

    Comment by Charlotte — January 25, 2011 @ 5:46 am

  9. I love the picture you took of the truffle- it’s gorgeous!

    Comment by Clara — January 25, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

  10. your pictures are just gorgeous!! i really love how pretty this dish is.

    Comment by blackbookkitchendiaries — January 25, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

  11. I love having leftover risotto, and this looks like a fabulous way to use it. I had heard about local truffles being available in your area, and I’m very, very jealous about it! I’m also very jealous about the incredible mushrooms you can get locally. I might have to move to Seattle some day because of it.;)

    Comment by lisaiscooking — January 25, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

  12. I’m always impressed when somebody does something fabulous with leftovers. That truffle! I didn’t realise you had local truffles. I’ve heard that they cultivate truffles in Tasmania, but unfortunately I haven’t had the pleasure of having one yet.

    Comment by Adele — January 27, 2011 @ 5:08 am

  13. Wow! Nice truffle, I didn’t realize you could buy WA truffles for only $3! And what a great way to use Meyer lemons. I buy them by the boat load from Costco and am always looking for ideas.

    Comment by Emily — January 27, 2011 @ 6:26 am

  14. Yum! These look amazing. I am in the process of re-discovering rice, and risotto is on my list of things to try. Now I know what to do with the leftovers! :)

    Comment by Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — January 27, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

  15. haha. i totally know what you mean about not measuring, not having a great recipe to write about, but then something’s so good you want to share it! also, truffle? yum! i honestly haven’t seen them at a market yet, but i’ll keep a better eye out now, especially if I can score one for $3!!

    Comment by elizabeth @ sophisticated pie — January 28, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

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