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Leftover Remake: Risotto cake recipe & bento lunches
Posted By Biggie On March 24, 2010 @ 3:28 pm In bento, for kids, leftover remake, meat, phyllo or pancake or other, recipe, rice | 129 Comments
Because I’m not my son’s personal short-order cook, I love to use dinner leftovers in our bento lunches to  minimize prep time. But eating the exact same thing for multiple meals can get boring pretty quickly, so finding new ways to quickly transform leftovers into different dishes is always welcome. Today I’ve got a simple Leftover Remake recipe for pan-fried risotto cakes.
With these lunches, I took cold zucchini risotto left over from dinner the night before, and made it into little pan-fried risotto cakes that my five-year-old ate as finger food. They’re reminiscent of Sicilian  arancini (deep-fried rice balls stuffed with cheese, meat, or vegetables), but I improvised as I didn’t have a good melting cheese on hand.
Contents of kindergartener bento lunch: Pan-fried zucchini (courgette) risotto cakes (recipe below), teriyaki & pineapple chicken meatballs (my favorite, Aidells brand), red grapes, and steamed broccoli with onion-based salad dressing. For dinner, I’d made the zucchini risotto from a recipe in Marcella Hazan’s classic cookbook  Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.
 Morning prep time: 22 minutes for the two bentos, including cooling time for the risotto cakes, meatballs and broccoli. In the morning I formed and pan-fried the risotto cakes from leftover risotto, microwaved the frozen meatballs, and steamed the broccoli in my  microwave mini-steamer. ( Click for full lunch details, an adult variation on this lunch with additional fruit & veggies, and a basic recipe for the risotto cakes.)
Packing: You know that I’m not one for spending a lot of time making  elaborate food art, opting instead for food picks and little lunch accessories to give a bento a quick shot of cute. A while back I stumbled on a package of new colorful  hugging food picks shaped like Usahana at a local thrift store for US$1, so I used them with the meatballs to make easy eating for little hands. I used all  silicone lunch accessories in this bento, with a baran separator and food cup for the broccoli — keeping foods from touching (more of an issue for Bug than it would be for me).
Thorough cooling of the lunch contents before packing up the box is important to prevent condensation that would: 1) make the risotto cakes soften up, 2) create a vacuum inside of the box that would make it hard to open, and 3)  increase the odds of food spoilage as bacteria thrive on moisture, protein and warmth. The lunch is packed in a  450ml Disney Cars bento box with movable subdivider, the right size box for a 5-year-old according to the  bento box size guidelines.
Verdict: Mostly thumbs up with everything gone except the grapes. Bug said he only ate half of a grape because he was trying to get the seeds out and peel the skin off with his fingers as he didn’t like the taste of the skin. He protested when I went to throw the remaining grapes out, though, saying he still wanted to eat them, it just took him too much time at school. So these big red grapes are off the bento list because they’re too time-consuming, but still in the kitchen at home for when we’re not in a hurry.
I added tangerine slices and smoked mushroom salad to our homestay Japanese teacher’s bento to round it out and make it different from the child’s version above.
Contents of adult bento lunch: Pan-fried zucchini risotto cakes, tangerines, smoked mushrooms dressed with homemade balsamic vinaigrette, red grapes, steamed broccoli with onion-based salad dressing, and teriyaki & pineapple chicken meatballs. I adapted a recipe for smoked mushroom salad in the terrific barbecue cookbook  Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue, and my husband smoked them in a  vegetable grill basket on his  Big Green Egg ceramic cooker. (You know, men love their grills!)
Morning prep time: 22 minutes for the two bento variations, including cooling time for the risotto cakes. The mushroom salad was leftover from a previous dinner, and I quickly sliced up half of a tangerine.
 Packing: I didn’t worry about separating the different foods as much for A-sensei, so I put only the drained mushrooms into a silicone food cup to keep the vinaigrette away from the grapes. The lunch is packed in a  600ml two-tier Hakoya bento box that I picked up at  Soko Hardware in San Francisco’s Japantown last year.
Verdict: A-sensei ate everything, with a thumbs up on the risotto cakes. When I probed more deeply about what they were like at room temperature (as I ate mine at home when they were still warm), she finally said that she thought Bug might like them better with ketchup or some other dipping sauce. Bug disagreed and said they were good as is, but it’s an interesting suggestion.
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Recipe for Pan-fried Risotto Cakes
Article printed from Lunch in a Box: Building a Better Bento: http://lunchinabox.net
URL to article: http://lunchinabox.net/2010/03/24/leftover-remake-risotto-cake-recipe/
URLs in this post:
 minimize prep time: http://lunchinabox.net/2007/04/23/need-for-speed-a-mommys-lunch-manifesto/
 Image: http://lunchinabox.net/2010/03/24/leftover-remake-risotto-cake-recipe/#more-2311
 arancini: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arancini
 Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/039458404X?ie=UTF8&tag=luinabo-20&linkCode=as2&camp=178
 Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lunchinabox/1479855711/
 microwave mini-steamer: http://lunchinabox.net/2007/02/13/speed-bento-techniques-frozen-spaghetti/
 elaborate food art: http://lunchinabox.net/recipes/decorative-food/
 hugging food picks: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lunchinabox/1479855711/in/set-72157594150632817/
 silicone lunch accessories: http://lunchinabox.net/2009/02/22/silicone-lunch-accessories/
 increase the odds of food spoilage: http://lunchinabox.net/2007/05/08/food-safety-for-packed-lunches-updated/
 450ml Disney Cars bento box: http://lunchinabox.net/2008/12/09/pasta-and-pizza-bento-lunches/
 bento box size guidelines: http://lunchinabox.net/2007/03/07/guide-to-choosing-the-right-size-bento-box/
 Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lunchinabox/4458204076/
 Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1558322620?ie=UTF8&tag=luinabo-20&linkCode=as2&camp=178
 vegetable grill basket: http://http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fs%3
 Big Green Egg ceramic cooker: http://biggreenegg.com/
 Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lunchinabox/3286654969/
 600ml two-tier Hakoya bento box: http://lunchinabox.net/2010/03/08/his-her-pasta-frittata-bento-lunches/
 Soko Hardware in San Francisco’s Japantown: http://lunchinabox.net/2010/03/11/bento-store-update-san-francisco-japantown/
 basic risotto recipe: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art14860.asp
 Additional bento lunch with teriyaki & pineapple chicken meatballs: http://lunchinabox.net/2007/08/08/speedy-teriyaki-pineapple-meatball-lunches/
 Food books in my kitchen: http://lunchinabox.net/2008/03/31/food-books-in-my-kitchen/
 All Leftover Remakes on Lunch in a Box: http://lunchinabox.net/category/post-type/leftover-remake/
 All Recipes on Lunch in a Box: http://lunchinabox.net/recipes/
 Bento FAQ: http://lunchinabox.net/FAQ
 Biggie’s top speed bento tips: http://lunchinabox.net/top-tips/
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