Recipes / Veganism

Meat-Free Monday Recipe: Summer Risotto Cakes

Ahhh Labor Day weekend, heralding the end of summer. On this Meat-Free Monday, I set out on a daunting task: to make the tastiest veggie burger. Ever.

I wanted to create something juicy and hearty…and of course delicious. Some vegan veggie burger recipes utilize brown rice as a healthy way to bind all the ingredients together. But I’m no fan of brown rice. Usually used in risottos, Arborio rice is incredibly sticky and starchy (and decadently delectable), so I thought this would make the perfect ingredient. But things don’t always go as planned in the kitchen…

I tinkered with the ratios of rice, creamy cannellini beans and veggies to make patties. When I fried these babies up, they didn’t really evoke a veggie burger. Rather I had conjured up a risotto cake. Golden and crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, each bite bursts with summer veggies; delicate zucchini, earthy mushrooms and sweet corn seasoned with savory sage.

Now risotto cakes don’t exactly scream Labor Day weekend, what with the usual culinary fanfare of grilling and BBQs. But hey…maybe they should. They’re so freaking tasty!

I may not have succeeded in my veggie burger quest. But I view my culinary experimentation as a happy accident. And if you want to serve these risotto cakes on a roll, go ahead. They may make the weirdest “veggie burgers” ever but they’re so scrumptious, you won’t even care.

Summer Risotto Cakes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups (approximately) veggie broth
4 ounce can of cannellini beans, drained
1/4 cup white onion, diced
8 ounces baby Bella mushrooms, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1/4 cup corn
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
Salt & pepper to taste


1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 garlic clove in large saucepan for 30 seconds on high heat. Add Arborio rice, stirring for 1 minute.

2. Pour 1 cup veggie broth into pan with rice, oil and garlic. Stir and reduce heat to simmer. Continue cooking, adding 1/2 cup of broth periodically, each time rice gets too dry.

3. Cook rice for approximately 20 minutes. Set aside and let cool. Normally, you want your risotto to be creamy and spread on a plate. You want this risotto less creamy so it can bind the other ingredients.

4. Meanwhile, mash cannellini beans with potato masher. Set aside.

5. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 garlic clove for 30 seconds on high heat. Add onions, sautéing for about 1 minute.

6. Add mushrooms and zucchini to onion, oil, garlic mixture. Reduce heat to medium.

7. Sauté mushrooms and zucchini for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add corn, sage, salt and pepper. Cook for another 5-6 minutes until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and let cool.

8. Take a small amount of risotto (about 1/4 cup) and spoon onto a plate. Add a small amount of mashed beans (1/4 teaspoon) and veggie mixture (about 1 tablespoon). Mix together.

9. Take mixture into your hands, mashing and squeezing together. Squeezing is the key to the cake holding together.

10. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat. Place risotto cake in pan. Cook on each side for 2 minutes.

Yields 6 risotto cakes

Bon appétit!

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