Continuing on through the Vegetarian Vuelta a España we get to one of my favorite subjects – Cheese! Manchego is a grassy, crumbly sheep cheese produced in the La Mancha region of Spain. Spaniards don’t mess around with the production of this cheese outlining particular qualities for a cheese to be designated as manchego.
These qualities include the cheese being produced in a particular region, it can only be made from a specific breed of sheep raised on registered farms in this specific region, the cheese must be aged for at least 60 days and it must be produced in a cylindrical mold to very particular height and diameter specifications.
Well, with all this work to identify manchego cheese, we must appreciate its grassy and tart flavor with a great recipe – and this is it.
I quickly discovered that even before forming the rice into little cake, the rice mixture itself was so good that I feared we ate too much of it to make it to the frying stage. All you need to do is throw some shaved manchego on top of the prepped rice and you’re good to go for an amazing side dish. But, where’s the fun in that? Push your sleeves up, dig in, and get your hands gloopy making these rice cakes. Fry them up and enjoy. I did discover that if you place them in the pan and press them with your spatula, the cakes have a tendency to break apart. So, resist the urge to squish.
Finally, the original recipe calls for a fresh artichoke, but long-time readers know me…I get into the kitchen and the less to fuss with the better. Find good quality jarred/canned artichoke hearts in water and you’ve saved yourself some time and that pesky fuss.
Enjoy the manchego!
Artichoke Rice Cakes with Manchego
adapted from Spain Recipes
- 8 quarters artichoke hearts from a jar, packed in water (not oil), finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup uncooked rice
- 2 – 3 cups hot vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup Manchego cheese, very finely diced
- 3-4 Tablespoon fine corn meal
- olive oil, for frying
- salt and ground black pepper
- fresh flat leaf parsley, to garnish
Melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the chopped artichoke heart, onion and garlic for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the rice and cook for about 1 minute.
Season well, then stir in the Parmesan cheese. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Leave to cool, then cover and chill for at least 2 hours Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the palm of one hand, flatten slightly, and place a few pieces of diced cheese in the center.