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Risotto Cakes with Cherry Tomatoes

These stick-to-your-ribs rice cakes are crispy on the outside and pleasantly soft on the inside. The accompanying tomatoes add a slight acidic counterpoint along with a splash of vibrant color. For a subtle variation, use a mixture of yellow and red cherry tomatoes. Accompany the cakes with a salad of fresh seasonal greens or a colorful fruit salad. 

Ingredients:

For the risotto: 

  • 4 cups chicken broth 
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice 
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc 
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, oregano, chervil and flat-leaf parsley 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  •   

For the tomatoes: 

  • 3 cups small cherry tomatoes, halved 
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  •   
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten 
  • 2 cups panko 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter 
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil 

Directions:

To make the risotto, line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the broth until bubbles appear around the edge of the pan. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.

In a fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and add the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the grains turn translucent at the edges, about 1 minute. Pour in the wine and stir until it is absorbed, about 3 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until most of the liquid is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, and cook, stirring constantly, until all of the broth is used and the risotto is creamy, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese and herbs, and season with salt and pepper. Pour the risotto into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Preheat an oven to 250°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

To prepare the tomatoes, place them in a bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and stir to coat. Arrange the tomatoes, cut sides up, on the prepared pan. Roast until curly around the edges, slightly darkened and partially dried, about 1 1/2 hours.

Turn the solidified risotto out onto a work surface and remove the foil. Cut in half on the diagonal. Cut each half into 3 wedges and then cut each wedge in half.

Place the flour, eggs and panko in 3 separate bowls. Next to the bowls, set a large wire rack over a sheet of waxed paper. Season the wedges on all sides with salt and pepper. Working with 1 wedge at a time, using tongs, roll it first in the flour to coat. Dip it in the bowl of beaten egg several times, then transfer to the bowl of panko and turn to coat completely. Place on the rack. Repeat with the remaining wedges. The wedges can be coated up to 1 hour in advance and kept covered at room temperature until ready to fry.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, melt 1 Tbs. each of the butter and canola oil. When the mixture stops foaming, add 6 of the wedges and cook, turning once, until well browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining butter, canola oil and risotto wedges.

Place 2 risotto cakes on each plate. Garnish with the roasted tomatoes and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).