Perhaps you’ve heard of arancini? Basically, delicious fried balls of risotto coated in breadcrumbs and stuffed with cheese, peas, and tomato or meat sauce (They had me at “fried!”).
They are said to have originated in Sicily and were given the name because of their shape, which ressembles a little “arancia” (orange).
I’ve made arancini a few times and although I love the traditional recipe, I can also
boast say that this variation is quite tasty too! The quinoa adds a nutty flavour while the pesto gives an extra kick of flavour. (And let’s not forget…they are stuffed with mozzarella! Yum!)
I love the salty-sweet combination of prosciutto and mozzarella but there’s always room for substitutions, such as one of these:
- meat or tomato sauce and peas
- mushrooms and fresh thyme
- eggplant, pine nuts and goat cheese
- any soft cheese (i.e., gorgonzola, brie)
Note to self: Time to try a dessert arancini! How do cinnamon and sugar coated quinoa arancini stuffed with Nutella and strawberries sound?!
In a word (or eight); gooey, crispy, cheesy, salty, nutty, chewy, gluten-free perfection! 😉
(Yields 10-12 medium arancini)
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 heaping tbsp. homemade pesto
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (+ 1 cup for coating)
1-2 slices prosciutto crudo, thinly sliced
1 fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
Oil of choice, quantity as needed (I used coconut oil)
* Although this recipe is categorized as 8+ months some doctors recommend NOT giving egg whites to babies under one year old (although many are now suggesting to introduce it earlier!)
In a large bowl, mix quinoa, Parmesan, pesto, 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs and salt and pepper. Add one egg and mix again until well combined.
The mixture should be wet enough to form patties that stick together when pressed lightly. If the mixture is too dry add another egg white. (You will also need to adjust the amount of breadcrumbs.)
To form the arancini take a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and roll to form a ball then place it the center of your palm. With your thumb, press down lightly in the center to form an indent.
Place 1-2 cubes of mozzarella and a small piece or two of prosciutto in the center of the arancini then begin to cover the center by moulding the quinoa mixture around the filling until completely covered and the arancini are sealed.
The key to not getting overwhelmed while preparing these is having your “mise en place” (putting everything in place) ready BEFORE you start.
To do so, form an “assembly line” of your ingredients…prepared arancini, one egg (whisked) in a small bowl, breadcrumbs evenly spread out in a plate.
*Note: for an extra crunchy coating, double dip the arancini (aka. egg wash, flour, egg wash, breadcrumbs). I didn’t have any gluten-free flour on hand!
With one hand, place the arancini (2-3 at a time) in the egg wash and roll around until well coated. With your clean hand, transfer the arancini to the breadcrumbs and roll again until well coated. Set aside on a dry plate while you prepare the remaining mixture.
Fill a medium frying pan with enough oil to immerse the arancini about 1/4 way then heat on medium until the oil just starts to bubble.
*The amount of oil you need will depend on the depth of the pan.
*I prefer adding less oil and turning the arancini more often to brown on all sides. However, you can also fill the frying pan halfway and turn them only once.
Fry the arancini in two batches (frying too many at a time will decrease the temperature of the oil) turning a few times to ensure that each side is browned and crispy.
*TIP: Test if the oil is hot enough by flicking some water off your fingertips into the pan. If it sizzles, it’s ready!
Set aside on a large plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Lightly salt while they’re still piping hot!
I prefer sticking to the traditional recipe of frying the arancini (although I DID veer way off the original list of ingredients!).
For a lighter take on this recipe, bake the arancini in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (turning once) or until crisp and golden brown.
These are best served warm (and the mozzarella is still piping hot and gooey!) but they are just as delicious at room temperature.
Serve with an extra dollop of pesto and/or tomato sauce.