Monday, February 16, 2009

February 15, 2009: Parmesan herb risotto cake

February's dish from our 2009 recipe calendar came under the heading Picnic in the Park, and indeed this risotto cake would be ideal for packing with a blanket and bottle of wine and enjoying on a mild summer night. (Unfortunately it wasn't suitable for our upcoming picnic dinner - more on that in a few posts' time.) Though it's tasty warm, it slices more smoothly once it's cooled down, and it wouldn't be too difficult to carry atop the picnic basket if kept in its springform tin. Fresh herbs and sun-dried tomatoes provide bursts of flavour, but most of all it's a rich concoction of eggs, cream and two kinds of cheese.

The recipe, however, provided some cause for confusion. The first ingredient listed in the original recipe is "2 x 250g packets arborio rice risotto base" - what, I asked myself, is that? Do I simply mix in 500g of uncooked arborio rice? Make up a risotto separately and plonk in 500g of that? The 'packets' part had me thinking that perhaps I was supposed to use a packet-mix risotto from the supermarket. But should I cook it up by the box's instructions or just stir in the dried mix? Does the 250g refer to the dry weight or the reconstituted weight? Argh! There didn't seem enough liquid in the recipe to properly cook the rice so I took what I thought was the middle road, buying and reconstituting two 145g packets of mushroom and garlic risotto. These seemed to provide the right amount of substance for the cake. I was impressed by the fluffy texture of the packet-mix risotto, though the flavour was very salty on its own.

Given the early preparation required to cook the risotto before making the cake, I probably won't remake this often but the recipe did reward my efforts with eight generous servings, each requiring little more than a handful of rocket to call it a meal.

Parmesan herb risotto cake

2 x 145g packets risotto mix
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup light thickened cream
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup ricotta, crumbled
pepper, to taste

Cook the risotto according to the accompanying instructions and allow it to cool, perhaps storing it in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 180°C; grease a springform pan. Transfer the risotto to a large mixing bowl; add the garlic, zucchini, eggs, cream, basil, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, 1/3 cup of the parmesan and a generous grinding of pepper. Mix it all together well then pour it into the springform pan, smoothing over the top a little. Sprinkle the top with the ricotta and remaining parmesan.

Bake the risotto cake for 40 minutes or until set.


  1. sounds like fine picnic food - I am with you on disliking recipes with packets in it because I always get confused about how much it means!

  2. Hmmm, interesting....a cake made out of risotto. Not a fan of the packet mix usage, but it would be even more trouble to make up a risotto from scratch then completing the recipe. Interesting idea though