Many people know that a classic appetizer, arancini (cheesy Italian rice balls,Â often stuffed), can be made from leftover risotto. (And many of you out there will automatically be thinking “Leftover risotto? What on earth is that?” I understand. I have the same response to recipes using ‘leftover’ avocados or wine.)Â At any rate, whether you have the restraint to keep leftover risotto overnight or, like me, you purposely made a batch the night before and refrigerated it expressly for this purpose, behold my fun and easy appetizer equation: Risotto + sushi = sushotto.
I had the idea for thisÂ appetizer a while back, replacing seasoned sushi rice with risotto, using the structure of a maki roll but with Italian flavors. The analogous fillings and toppings were simple enough, but I got stuck on one important element. What would stand in for the nori, the deep green sheets of seaweed that act as the ‘wrapper’? I tried spinach flavored tortillas – WAY too starchy combined with the rice, and far too thick. I tried using rice paper, the kind used for fresh spring rolls, dyed with green food coloring. That was just sticky and gross, beside the fact that I generally try to avoid artificial colors, period. So sushotto got shelved for a while.
As I started cooking with hearty greens like kale, collards and chard more frequently, it finally dawned on me – some of these greens were sturdy and wide enough to provide the perfect structure, AND th eflavors would likely be quite complementary! Eureka.
What follows is less a strict recipe and more of a template – feel free to use different combinations! For example, I used roasted peppers as the filling and collards as the wrapper, but I think sundried tomatoes would make a great filling and I know kale or chard would work nicely for the wrapper, too. Add some nice sharp pecorino instead of the parmesan, or perhaps chop up some good black olives. Anything goes!
Leftover risotto – I worked with about 3 cups total, and had made a very basic, straightforward recipe*
Several leaves collard greens
roasted red and yellow peppers
A few tablespoons toasted pine nuts
About 1/4 cup grated parmesan
I blanched the greens in boiling water and then shocked them, rinsing them gently in cold water.Â Those using kale or chard may only want a minute or two; those using collards might want to cook them for about 5 minutes before shocking. Pat the leaves carefully dry. While they finish cooling down, cut the peppers into strips. Heat up the leftover rice.
And that’s really it for prep – time to assemble! Spread about half a cup (or more, depending on the size of the leaves) of the leftover risotto out, then add the strips of peppers down the center, a few pine nuts and a dusting of parmesan. Roll ‘er up as tight as you can manage, just like a sushi roll.
Slice the roll into segments about an inch to an inch and a half thick, and garnish with pine nuts, cheese, fresh basil, or whatever your heart desires!Â I think they would hold up well to melting some cheese over the tops of the segments under a broiler, if you so desired.
Abbondanza and arigato!
— posted by Anne
* Arborio, onion, olive oil and butter, vegetable stock, white wine, finish with cream and a touch of parmesan)