July 27, 2010

Leftovers with a New Life: Cheesy Rice Cakes

The plain, white rice 
practically jumped 
out of the Chinese food carton 
and into the pan, 
eager for a new identity.

The truth is, it had been two days since this otherwise bland accompaniment to takeout had been carelessly tossed on the top shelf in the fridge, its more flavorful counterparts having been already consumed. Odds were that it was doomed for the fate of "forgotten, then garbage can".

But why throw out perfectly edible rice? Simple Chinese takeout could become tonight's main Italian event. And it did: with the addition of a couple eggs, a blend of cheese, and aromatic herbs, a new spin on Arancini (those little Italian nuggets of cheesy, ricey goodness) was born within minutes. These cakes, which M and I crafted into entree-sized patties and dipped into tomato sauce, would also be delicious as the side to a tender cut of meat, or served up bite sized for a quick and user-friendly appetizer. Regardless of how these cakes are consumed, it's pretty sweet when last night's leftovers get a second chance as a savory and healthy new item.

Just like a fickle teenager (can we tell I've been in school-counseling class too long?), plain white rice reinvents itself in an instant: with new layers of complexity it becomes worlds more interesting than it was only moments before... and maybe even packs a little attitude, too. 

Italian Rice Patties: (makes 6 entree-sized patties)
1 1/4 cup cooked white rice
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Italian cheese blend (Asiago, Mozzarella, Provolone)
2 T. cream cheese, softened, or Greek yogurt
2 T. Italian seasoning
1 t. salt & pepper each
2 T. olive oil

Directions:  Combine all of the above ingredients, except for olive oil, and mix very well. Cover and place in the refrigerator for two hours to allow the ingredients to thicken and settle. In a large pan or griddle, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the pan is hot, scoop the rice mixture (using an ice cream scoop or spoon) into a ball and place down in the pan. Press until flat with the back side of a spatula. Allow to cook until sizzling and browned on one side, then flip. Keep patties warm in tin foil in the oven while cooking batches, then serve with hot tomato sauce. 

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