the only thing better than risotto is leftover risotto for risotto cakes. fried to a golden crisp on the outside and rich and creamy on the inside, they're the perfect dinner paired with a big crunchy salad.
the recipe is incredibly easy and never fails.
take cold leftover risotto and warm it up a little. i usually microwave it for about 30 seconds. you want it to be warm enough to easily mold it into a cake.
when it's warm, add any additional flavor you want that wasn't in the original recipe. for these, i used leftover three cheese risotto and added a couple tablespoons of finely chopped basil and chives. depending on the original risotto recipe you made, you may want to add a bit more cheese too. mix in all your add ins. divide into portions - you're looking for about a heaping tablespoon size - don't go too much bigger or it may break when you try to flip it or be too thick and the middle won't get warmed through. the number of cakes you make will depend on how much leftover risotto you have. sometimes i end up with 4, sometimes 6, sometimes 2. just make sure they're relatively equal sized.
warm up your pan. heat a large skillet/saute pan over medium high heat. add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to the bottom so it's well coated. this is not the time to skimp on oil.
while the oil heats, prepare the breading and bread the cakes. mix equal amounts of panko bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese together in a large pan or bowl. more often than not, i use a square or rectangular pyrex baker. you want something with deep sides and a surface large enough to hold at least one cake and allow you to flip it. season with salt & pepper and any other spices you like - garlic powder is a no fail choice. (but i skipped it this time since i wanted to taste the basil more than garlic.)
use your hands to form the risotto into cakes. make balls and press the balls into cakes between the palms of your hands. place in the breading. turn over and make sure both flat sides and all the way around the edge are coated.
cook in the hot oil about three minutes then flip and cook about three minutes more. if you make the cakes too big and they hang over the edge of your spatula, they'll fall apart when you flip them. you will most likely have to cook these in batches too, which is fine. don't overcrowd the pan - give them room to cook. you can keep cooked cakes warm in the oven while you finish up the second (and sometimes third) batches.
the hot cakes are best served with a side of warmed tomato sauce for dipping.