Arancini with salt and pepper tomato sauce

This classic Italian snack of risotto balls is a great way to use up any leftovers and served as part of an antipasti platter, says Paul Bloxham
By Paul Bloxham
Arancini with salt and pepper tomato sauce
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 1 hour 20 minutes cooling
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

  • 1 litres vegetable stock
  • large pinch strands saffron
  • 75 g butter
  • drizzle olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 250 g Arborio rice
  • 125 ml dry white wine
  • 75 g finely grated parmesan

For the roasted salt and pepper tomato sauce

  • 1 small head garlic, top sliced off
  • 250 g plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp demerara sugar
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

For the arancini

  • 1 regular buffalo mozzarella, or 24 boccocini
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 200 g panko breadcrumbs, (available from oriental supermarkets)
  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying

To serve

  • knob butter
  • 4 field mushrooms, sliced
  • drizzle olive oil
  • 6 punnet mixed oriental cress, to garnish

Method

1. For the risotto: place the stock into a small pan with the saffron, and keep simmering over a low heat.

2. Heat the butter and oil together in a large pan over a medium heat, then fry the onion, celery, leek and garlic for 4-5 minutes, or until softened.

3. Add the rice and stir for 1-2 minutes, or until the rice grains are translucent. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed.

4. Add a ladleful of the simmering stock to the rice, stirring with a wooden spoon until the liquid is completely absorbed. Repeat the proeess until all of the stock is absorbed, or when the rice is tender but with a slight bite (it should take roughly 20 minutes). Remove from the heat.

5. Stir in the grated parmesan, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside to cool for one hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

7. For the roasted salt and pepper tomato sauce: wrap the garlic head in aluminium foil.

8. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, in a foil-lined baking tray and sprinkle with the sugar, then season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the whole red pepper and the wrapped garlic on the tray and roast for 45 minutes, or until the pepper is charred.

9. Transfer the pepper to a bowl and cover with cling film. Allow to cool for 20 minutes, then peel the pepper skin and discard the stem and seeds. Transfer the pepper flesh to a food processor.

10. Add the tomatoes to the food processor with the pepper. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the food processor, discarding the skins. Add the balsamic vinegar and the lemon juice. Blend until smooth, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

11. For the arancini: using damp hands, roll one tablespoon of the cooled risotto into a ball. Press your thumbs into the centre of the ball to make a large indent.

12. Place a bocconcini into the indent, then mould the rice around. Repeat with the remaining risotto and bocconcini to make roughly 24 arancini.

13. Dip the arancini into the beaten egg, then roll in the panko crumbs.

14. Pour enough oil into a deep, heavy-based pan so that the oil is 5cm deep. Heat to 180C/350F, then carefully lower the arancini, in small batches, into the oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes, or until golden-brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Cover the plate with aluminium foil to keep the arancini warm as you deep-fry the remaining arancini.

15. To serve, melt the butter in a small pan until foaming, then lightly fry the mushrooms for 2-3 minutes, or until softened. Transfer to a serving plate and drizzle with olive oil. Serve the arancini next to the mushrooms, with the sauce on the side. Garnish with the micro cress.

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