This porcini risotto wrapped up in savoy cabbage leaves makes a delicious vegetarian main meal for the holiday season.
If the slow roasted turkey leg, roulades or beef roast is not an option for you on Christmas, this sumptuous risotto cake might be the answer. It looks festive, it is filling, it fits most of the vegetable side dishes you could think of making and should you cook the Christmas dinner for both vegetarians and meat lovers, I can assure you that any meat lover would like a slice of this rice cake as well, either to accompany his piece of meat or on its own, because it just tastes so good.
This recipe was really a lucky pick for me. I had a whole list (I love making lists – the longer, the better) of vegetarian dishes that might be suitable for Christmas dinner. I wasn’t sure what would be best, but I thought I would try at least half of the list before finding a winner. But surprise! The first dish I cooked out of that list was a complete winner for me. I thought this might be something I would enjoy eating from the very beginning, otherwise it would not have made it on the list anyway, but I didn’t think it would be as GOOD as it was. Absolutely delicious! The rice was creamy and somehow sticky, the flavor given by the mushrooms and the white wine amazing and the caramelized carrot topping was a perfect fit.
The whole family loved this and as it was quite a lot of it and quite filling, we had it two days in a row. Nobody complained about that, quite the contrary, they were more than happy to have rice again the next day. And because I had to reheat it, I can tell you right now, that you are safe if you decide to make this a little bit in advance (the evening before or in the morning) and then reheat it. I suppose that served immediately is just a bit better, but trust me, you would like the reheated and stress-free version just as much. Or you could cook the rice and build the cake a few hours in advance and then bake it for 25-30 minutes instead the regular 15 minutes.
But if you are making it just before serving, it will not be a lot of work either. Making risotto is easy, although you have to stir quite a lot. And I never ever spend the whole time stirring, I just don’t have the patience for it, I just stay close to the pot and stir as often as I can think of. You will have to stand by anyway, the savoy cabbage leaves and the carrots need to be cooked as well, while the risotto is cooking.
I made this using vegetarian hard cheese, it was the first time I paid attention to the fact that Parmesan is not really vegetarian. Thank you Anca for pointing it out to me. But of course, if you are not strictly cooking for vegetarians, you can use the regular Parmesan instead. And the addition of dried porcini makes all the difference, I really loved their taste. And because I chopped them really finely, the kids didn’t even notice there were mushrooms in the rice, so they ate everything on their plate (except the cabbage leave 🙁 ) without complaining about the darn mushrooms. 🙂
- For the risotto cake:
- 15 g/ 0.5 oz dried porcini
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 250 g/ 8.8 oz risotto rice
- 125 ml/ ½ cup dry white wine
- 500 ml/ 2 cups good quality vegetable stock
- 250 ml/ 1 cup water from soaking the porcini
- 30 g/ 1 oz butter
- 50 g/ 1.7 oz freshly grated vegetarian hard cheese or Parmesan
- 8 large savoy cabbage leaves (or 10-12 if they are not very large)
- salt and pepper
- For the caramelized carrots:
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 4 large carrots
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 125 ml/ ½ cup good vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
- Rinse the porcini mushrooms and soak them in cold water for 20-30 minutes, according to the packet's instructions. Strain but keep the soaking water. Heat the stock in small pot and keep it simmering on very low heat while you cook the risotto.
- In the meantime finely chop the onion and the carrot. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and cook the onion and the carrot until the onions are translucent. Add the risotto rice and stir for about 1 minute until the rice starts to get translucent too. Add the white wine and keep stirring until the wine has cooked into the rice. Add a pinch of salt and stir.
- Start adding the vegetable stock and 1 cup of the soaking water one ladleful at a time while stirring very often. Only add the next ladleful of liquid when the previous one has been absorbed by the rice. Cook the rice for about 20 minutes or according to the packet's instructions. Keep tasting it towards the end of the cooking time, it should be cooked but still have a slight bite to it. If the rice is not quite done yet but you are out of stock, add some more of the porcini soaking water.
- Take off the heat and stir in the butter and the freshly grated hard cheese or Parmesan. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
- While the risotto is cooking bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a large pinch of salt when it starts boiling. Blanch the large savoy cabbage leaves in two batches for about 4 minutes each batch. Let drain well.
- Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius/ 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Butter a 20 cm/ 8 inch springform or cake pan. Line the springform with most of the savoy cabbage leaves making sure that some of them hang over the edge of the form, so that you can turn them down over the rice later. I leave one leave to finish off the cake, just in case there are still gaps after covering the rice. Fill the form with the risotto and level the top. Turn the hanging leaves over the rice and place the last one on top in case you still have some gaps, it might not be necessary.
- Bake the risotto “cake” for about 15 minutes.
- In the meantime prepare the carrots.
- Start by roasting the sesame seeds in the the clean pan until they are fragrant. Transfer them to a plate immediately.
- Peel the carrots and cut them into diagonal pieces. Heat the butter and cook the carrots until glossy. Sprinkle the sugar on top and let caramelize. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the carrots are al dente and a bit sticky. Add salt and pepper to taste and the white balsamic vinegar.
- When ready to serve turn the risotto “cake” onto a serving plate and slice it. Serve with the carrots sprinkled with the sesame seeds.
Other vegetarian Christmas meals you might consider:
Camembert Cabbage Slices au Gratin (with vegetarian Camembert)