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Risotto Crab Cakes with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Risotto Crab Cakes with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
Yield:   4-8 servings (2 crab cakes per serving), depending on size of crab cakes
Cook Time:  About 17 minutes
Tips:   To reheat, place in a 400° oven for about 10 minutes or until heated through and sizzling. If a thinner pesto is desired, stir in additional olive oil (about 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached). Crab cakes may be formed in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Crab cakes may also be cooked in advance and stored in refrigerator or freezer, then reheated in the oven as mentioned previously.
Suggestion:   Delicious with a salad or a side of steamed or stir-fried vegetables. May also be made as a fun and tasty appetizer! See Pesto Stuffed Crab Balls.
One of the great things about crab cakes is how versatile they are. Crab cakes can be made with a variety of ingredients and served with any number of tasty sauces. They can also be baked or fried (or even deep-fried), each cooking method producing a different outer texture and crunch. With its light and fresh texture and flavor and its fabulous sun-dried tomato-flavored basil pesto sauce, this recipe just might be one of the best crab cake recipes out there that you can easily make at home!

These delicious crab cakes begin with a mixture of crab meat, cooked risotto, panko crumbs, Dijon mustard, freshly squeezed lemon juice, mayonnaise and chopped parsley. This mixture is tossed with some
sautéed diced red bell peppers and minced onion, then is formed into crab cakes, which can be formed into any size you prefer, from a generous main course size (as shown in the photo above) to mini appetizer sizes (crab appetizers are always a bit hit at parties!). Risotto is an Italian style rice that is traditionally cooked broth or water and other flavoring ingredients, resulting in a creamy consistency. In this case, the risotto is cooked as you would cook other types of rice, and simply used as a filler that helps hold the crab cakes together, while adding tender texture and light flavor. If you have difficulty finding risotto in your grocery store, try asking your grocer where they stock their risotto; or you might want to purchase the risotto that comes in boxes with seasoning pouches (near other flavored rices such as Rice-A-Roni), then simply skip using the seasoning while cooking and drain off any excess water after the risotto has cooked.

The tangy and full-flavored sun-dried tomato pesto sauce is basically a variation of traditional pesto with some sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper flakes and freshly squeezed lemon juice added for color and added tanginess, and would frankly be delicious with pasta, sandwiches, fish, omelettes and almost anything else you can think of! Tip: If the pesto seems a little too thick for your liking, simply stir in some additional olive oil (about 1 tablespoon at a time) until you reach a desired consistency.



  • Pesto

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (or 1 2-oz. bag)
  • 2 oz. fresh basil leaves (1-2 bunches)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or more as needed for desired consistency)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes (dry or oil-packed)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Crab Cakes
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying crab cakes
  • 2 cups prepared risotto, cooled
  • 2 cups panko, plus more for coating
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb. fresh crab meat (or 3 6-oz. cans, drained)



Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and process to a coarse paste. Through the top opening of the food processor, add the olive oil while continuing to process. Add more olive oil (1 tablespoon at a time) if a thinner consistency is desired.

Crab Cakes

Sauté onion and bell pepper in 1/4 cup of oil over medium heat until soft but not browned. Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine onions and peppers, risotto, panko, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, parsley, mayonnaise and salt. Gently fold in crab just until blended.

Form crab cakes into patties using 1/2 to 1 cup mixture for each, depending on size of crab cakes desired (photo above shows crab cakes made with 3/4 cup of mixture). Coat with panko by sprinkling over tops and bottoms and gently pressing. (Sides may be coated with panko, too, if desired, though they will likely not be browned while cooking.)

Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Carefully place crab cakes in skillet and cook until tops and bottoms turn golden brown (about 2-3 minutes per side), being careful to flip crab cakes over gently to prevent them from crumbling.

Top crab cakes with pesto or serve on the side.

See "Tips" above for preparing in advance and reheating leftovers.

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