Playing Copycat

Playing Copycat

I liked mine better than the original.
I was just thinking about that sandwich earlier this week and wondering why I haven’t made it in such a long time.
I need to add it to my list of “Need to Make Soon” foods. I’m not kidding. I have a list and it’s loooong.

At the wedding, we were treated to a buffet of:

  • Salad (made by my mother-in-law Jan)
  • Hummus Platter with Fresh Vegetables
  • Cilantro Pesto Sauce
  • Spinach and Artichoke Dip
  • Fingerling Potatoes with Roasted Garlic, Chive, Tarragon and Truffle Oil
  • Butternut Squash Risotto Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis (this was my absolute favorite!)
  • And last, but not least, cubed marinated tofu with some kind of sauce on it.  I don’t know what it was called, but it was good.

Everything was wonderful, but, OH, those butternut squash risotto cakes with roasted red pepper coulis!  I’ve been thinking about them ever since.  They’ve been at the very top of my “Need to Make Soon” list ever since the wedding.  Now, I can finally cross them off because I have succeeded in making a nearly identical copycat recipe.  They might even be better than the original.

(Here they are, in the bottom, right of this photo):

Playing Copycat

This was no easy task for someone who has never made risotto before.  I first had to study countless recipes and learn the process.  I came up with my own recipe with ingredients that sounded good to me and it turned out fantastic.  Sweet Daddy and I ate the butternut squash risotto last night for dinner.

Today, I used the cold leftover risotto to make those cherished risotto cakes.  The traditional way of cooking them is to fry them in oil.  But, in an effort to reduce the fat content, I decided to throw caution to the wind and coat them in panko bread crumbs, then bake them.  The outcome was beyond spectacular.

So, without further ado, I present to you two new recipes with a delicious variation on the second recipe…

Printable Recipe

Butternut Squash Risotto

  • 3 cups roasted butternut squash (directions below)
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 4 cups (1 quart) vegetable broth (you can use low sodium if you prefer)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional–if you don’t use wine, add another cup of vegetable broth)
  • 1/2 cup shallots, minced
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or olive oil plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 Tbsp. Earth Balance
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (nooch)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • nutmeg, to taste (optional)

Playing Copycat

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut a medium to large size butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and pulp.  Place squash skin side down on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Playing Copycat

Cook 50 minutes to 1 hour and 10 minutes.  It’s done when you can pierce it easily with a fork.

Playing Copycat

Remove from the oven and scoop the flesh out with a spoon.  Chop with a knife and set aside.
Bring vegetable broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan, then reduce heat to low.
Put oil and Earth Balance in a medium skillet on the stovetop and heat over medium heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and stir for 5 minutes.  Add rice and stir for 3 minutes more.

Add the wine, stirring occasionally, until it cooks out completely, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of broth and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid is almost absorbed.

Playing Copycat

Continue adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring each time until almost completely absorbed.
When you have about 2 cups of broth/water left, stir in the squash. When you have about 1 cup of broth/water left, stir in the nooch, sage, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Allow to cook down until the liquid is almost completely absorbed and serve.  (I used low-sodium vegetable broth, 1 tsp. Celtic sea salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and a dash of nutmeg.)

Playing Copycat

**The process of adding broth and stirring until it cooked down took about 35 minutes.

Refrigerate the leftovers and the next day you can make risotto cakes.  Trust me–you’re going to want leftovers so you can make these:

Printable Recipe

Baked Butternut Squash Risotto Cakes
**and a variation called Stuffed and Baked Butternut Squash Risotto Cakes
Makes 8 risotto cakes

  • 1 cup leftover Butternut Squash Risotto, cooled completely
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • a bowl of warm water and 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • *The variation below also uses approx. 3 Tbsp. Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds or Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Put the panko bread crumbs on a plate.  Dip a 1/8 cup measuring cup in the bowl of warm water and olive oil.  Scoop 1/8 cup of cold, leftover risotto with the measuring cup and tap the risotto into the palm of your hand.
Playing Copycat
Flatten just a little and shape the edges.  Roll the entire surface in the panko bread crumbs and place on the greased baking sheet.  Repeat the process of dipping the cup in the water/oil, scooping, and coating in panko crumbs.
Playing Copycat
Dip a tablespoon in the water/olive oil and scoop one tablespoon of risotto out.  Tap it onto the palm of your hand.  Flatten and press your finger into the middle to create a shallow “bowl”.
Pinch a small amount (1/2 tsp.) of Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds or Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds and place it in the “bowl” in the risotto.
Scoop another 1 Tbsp. of risotto and place on top to form the top of the risotto cake.  Smooth and seal the edges as you shape it and flatten it.
Carefully remove from the palm of your hand, coat in panko crumbs, and place on the baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.  Flip them over and bake for another 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

In the photo below, the six on the left are very similar to Sugar Plum’s risotto cakes.  The two on the right are the Daiya stuffed risotto cakes and are a new favorite of mine.

Playing Copycat
Dip in marinara sauce, ranch dressing, both marinara and ranch (like I did), or try this recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Coulis that I found at  The next time I make it, I’ll saute the shallots first, to lessen the onion flavor.
Playing Copycat
Playing Copycat
Playing Copycat
And, to get in the Valentine’s spirit, I also made a heart shaped risotto cake.
Start by dipping a heart shaped cookie cutter in the water/oil and placing it on a plate.  Then fill the cookie cutter up about halfway and press the risotto down to make it firmer.  And, if you choose to, add some Daiya cheese and cover with more risotto.  Then, put your hand on top of the cookie cutter and turn the plate over to loosen the heart from the plate.  Put the cake into the panko crumbs and slide the cookie cutter off.  Cover the tops and sides with crumbs and carefully transfer to the baking sheet.  Cook the same amount of time.  Perfect for Valentine’s Day.
Playing Copycat Playing Copycat
Who says you need to fry risotto cakes?  Not this copycat!

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