Thursday, 13 July 2017


I love risotto, so making Arancini (rice balls) was a no brainer and although in Italy they are filled with cheese or meat, I filled mine with roast piquillo peppers.   However you can fill them with whatever you fancy like vegan cheese or cooked sausage, chopped olives or garlic mushrooms.   I like to make bulk portions so I have things ready in the freezer, but you can halve or quarter the recipe to suit.

300 g Arborio rice
2 onions finely chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
25 g Parmesan (I used Good Carma Foods Original Parmesan alternative)
2 x 400 g can cannellini beans
2 garlic cloves crushed
200 g roast piquillo peppers (I used Spanish Passion)
2 handfuls of basil
Breadcrumbs (I used Clearspring gluten free)
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Makes 27-30

Saute the onion and garlic in the oil for 15 mins, until really soft and browned.

Add the rice to the pan and stir well to coat the rice with the oil, then add some of the stock, stir and allow the rice to soak up the liquid.

Meanwhile blitz one can of beans and their liquid, with a stick blender and drain the other can.

Add the blitzed bean mixture to the pan, with more stock, so the rice starts to plump up and soften.

Add the cheese, drained beans and plenty salt and pepper to the pan, combine well and continue cooking, making sure it does not stick to the pan.

The mixture needs to be quite thick, so it can be formed into balls, so when the rice is al dente (meaning to the tooth) soft but still with a bite, it is ready.   Rip the basil up into pieces and add to the pan and stir through.

Scrape into a bowl and allow to cool, which makes the mixture coagulate slightly, making it easier to handle.

Sprinkle a thin layer of breadcrumbs into a dish, to coat the balls as you make them.

Weigh the mixture into 60 g portions, flatten slightly and make a small hollow in the middle, then add a few pieces of the roast pepper.   Mould the rice around the pepper, so it is completely concealed and shape into a round ball.   This is easiest using the palm of your hand to hold the risotto mixture and form with the other hand, but for photograph purposes I had to put the rice ball down, to take the pic.

Roll the rice balls in the breadcrumbs so they are evenly coated and place on a baking tray.

The Arancini freeze really well, so at this stage put them in the freezer, until solid and then bag up.

The traditional way of cooking, is to deep fry the Arancini, but I have no deep fat fryer, so you can either gently shallow fry in oil, turning frequently or bake in the oven at 180ยบ for 25-30 mins, until browned and crisp on the outside.

I served with a warm roast vegetable salad and some basil pesto.

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