Vegetarian: Mushroom-Rice Fritters with Lemon-Dill Sour Cream


[Photo: Lauren Rothman]

I was a lucky kid: Although I grew up in New York City, my family also had a small country house in northeastern Pennsylvania. Every single weekend during the summer, my parents, older brother and I would pile into the car for the trip out of town. I'd spend the weekend immersed in nature, picking my way across the rocky hillside out back of our house looking for bugs, salamanders, frogs, or, well, basically any living creature I could torture keep under close watch for a day or so before releasing it back into its native habitat.

We ate well during those weekends. My dad, the prototypical grill master, would cook up everything from chicken to ribs to steak, but by the time our car rolled into our New York driveway late on Sunday night, all four of us were exhausted and my mom, the household cook, couldn't be bothered to make much of a fuss over dinner. She typically offered us two choices: cold cereal and milk, or her special rice pancakes. These fritters were concocted from the leftover white rice that had kicked around in our city fridge all weekend, typically stirred together with raisins, bound with egg, and fried until crispy, with a finishing sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar. My brother and I usually stuffed our gullets with a few, then tumbled straight into our beds.

Today's recipe takes its inspiration from those end-of-weekend pancakes, and they're a great way to use up cold, leftover rice. But the similarities pretty much end there—these days, I'm far more partial to a savory dinner, so I add browned mushrooms to my rice fritters and, once they're fried, top them with a zingy, lemony sour cream flecked with dill. Served alongside a simple green salad, they make a satisfying, not-too-heavy summer dinner. (And you don't have to wait until late Sunday night to make them.)

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