Greetings from Barga, Italy! For the past several weeks I have been serving at the Community’s outreach in Tuscany, and learning about Italian food in the process. During the holidays I made one of my most favorite Italian dishes: arancini. You would be hard pressed not to find comfort in these creamy risotto balls stuffed with cheese, aside from the fact they are also breaded and deep fried…mama mia.
As with most things I’ve encountered in Italy, this dish brings a centuries-long history to the table, dating back to 10th-century Sicily. While arancini has undergone some modern interpretation over the centuries, it remains a delicious treat. Buon appetito!
Fill a saucepan, crockpot or deep fryer with 4-5 inches of oil and heat to 350 degrees, regulating frequently with a thermometer if not using a crockpot or deep fryer appliance.
Form a ball of risotto no larger than a golf ball in your hand and press it flat on a piece of wax paper. Place a mozzarella cube in the center, and close the risotto around it. Reshape into a ball if needed and set aside and repeat with remaining risotto.
Once all the risotto has been formed, gently roll in flour, then egg and finally the breadcrumbs until fully coated.
Working in batches, gently drop risotto balls into the oil, frying until the outside becomes a light golden brown color. Remove from oil and place on a cooling rack to drain excess oil.
Serve warm or with a red or white sauce of your choosing.
I often make salmon cakes in a big batch and freeze them for later use to serve for lunch with a nice salad of tomatoes and cucumbers or even citrus and avocado. They can be eaten at room temperature or crisped up in the oven before serving – whatever your preference. This is a simple recipe where all the ingredients are mixed together and then lightly fried in some olive oil. I’ve found that using an old fashioned ice cream scoop does such an excellent job shaping your patties that you don’t even have to get your hands dirty! Just scoop the mixture directly into your skillet and pat down with your metal spatula. It’s a cost-effective recipe that can be made gluten-free as well. A great healthy way to start your year!