Food & dining

Seasonal Recipes

Recipe: Try this big, golden cake of rice with a little ham and cheese tucked inside

Crispy rice cake
Sally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe
Crispy rice cake

Serves 6

Need a home for leftover white rice, a few cooked vegetables, a little ragu, tail ends of cheese, or a last slice of deli ham? It can all go into this crispy rice cake. And if you end up with leftovers of this, you can break it up in a bowl and serve it the next morning with a fried egg on top. Cook the cake with the lid set on askew to help the cheese inside melt and excess moisture escape, so the cake crisps. If you don’t have cooked rice for this dish, use the “pasta method” here to cook long-grain white rice in plenty of salted water; drain excess water when cooked.

Salt and pepper, to taste
2cups uncooked long-grain white rice or 6 cups cooked white rice
½cup freshly grated Parmesan
¼pound ham or salami, cut into ½-inch pieces
1bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped
3eggs, lightly beaten
2tablespoons olive oil
1cup grated mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or cheddar cheese, or a blend
2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)

1. Have on hand a 10-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet.

2. If using uncooked rice, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Sprinkle in the rice, and stir several times until the water returns to a boil. Cook for 11 minutes, taste a grain to see if it is tender, and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes more, if necessary. Drain the rice into a colander, use the end of a wooden spoon to poke four drain holes in the rice, and let the rice sit for 10 minutes to drain; spread in a shallow bowl and leave to cool. If using cooked rice, put it into a bowl.


3. Stir in Parmesan, ham or salami, scallions, eggs, salt, and pepper. The rice mixture should have a somewhat sticky texture so it will bind together later in the pan.

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4. Set the skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread half the rice mixture in the pan. Sprinkle with the mozzarella, Jack, or cheddar, keeping the cheese to within an inch of the edge of the pan. Spread the remaining rice on top and press it down gently with a spatula to make a uniform cake.

5. Set on the lid askew and cook for 10 minutes. With a spatula, carefully peek under the edge of the rice. If it is not yet golden, continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until it browns.

6. To turn the cake, remove the lid and set a large plate upside down on the rice cake in the pan. Holding the pan handle and plate with pot holders, flip the pan in one smooth motion. Set aside the cake on the plate and return the pan to the burner.

7. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and heat it until it is hot. Slide the cake off the plate and back into the pan. Set on the cover askew and cook the other side of the cake for 10 minutes, or until its underside is golden brown. Remove from the heat. Transfer the cake to a platter or board and sprinkle with parsley. Cut into wedges to serve. Caleb Barber

Caleb Barber can be reached at