Arancini are one of those universally loved food items. Traditionally, arancini are fried rice balls coated with breadcrumbs and filled with sauce, peas and a piece of mozzarella cheese stuffed in the middle. They are named arancini (little oranges) as they turn a lovely golden orange colour after being fried.
While they are basically irresistible to all who cross their path, arancini aren’t made or eaten regularly as one does start to feel a little guilty knowing they are deep fried.
After discussing this recipe with my friends, I’ve also realised that for some reason, people perceive them to be difficult to make. Now, this is simply not the case – with a little forward planning and the help of your trusty kitchen oven, you can turn last night’s left overs into tomorrow’s tasty and healthier baked Arancini with about 15 minutes prep time.
The easiest, tastiest and best rice base to use for arancini is risotto and you may remember a couple of posts back I made a flavourful mushroom risotto. You see, I had a plan for that mushroom risotto. I’m not always hell-bent on being an Italian traditionalist, so I knew that if I made a large enough portion of my favourite risotto I would be able to use the left overs for arancini. I also knew that I had a special herbed breadcrumb mix sitting in the freezer from our Feaster Sunday lunch (I used it as a crust for the lamb racks) which would be perfect for the arancini crust.
Last week we had a friend of Scotty’s staying with us, so when Scotty went to pick him up from the airport, I got busy making these arancini as I knew these babies would be welcomed after plane food!
Lunch was in the oven by the time they arrived and in no time we were all sitting on the couch with our baked arancini and salad. Yum!
BAKED MUSHROOM ARANCINI (RISOTTO BALLS)
1/2 of this Mushroom Risotto recipe (or any left over risotto)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
A dash milk
3 slices stale bread, made into crumbs
1/3 cup grated romano cheese
Olive oil spray
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Place the breadcrumbs, romano cheese and all the herbs into a blender and pulse several times until it looks nice and green. Pour the mixture into a dish and set aside. In a separate dish mix the eggs and milk and set aside.
Taking a 1/2 palm sized amount of the risotto, roll into a ball and set aside. Repeat with all remaining risotto. Dip each ball into the egg mixture, being sure to coat the whole ball, then place into the breadcrumb mixture and roll the ball around until a healthy crumb is coating the entire ball.
After this point you can set the balls aside in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. It is at this point that you can also pop them in the freezer should you wish to cook them at a much later date.
Place the balls on a tray lined with baking paper and spray with olive oil being sure to spray olive oil around the entire ball. Bake until outside is golden and inside is piping hot.
Remove from oven and serve with a green salad and shaved fennel.