I do love an arancini ball – golden and satisfyingly round. I first came across them on holiday in Sicily and had no idea what they were. In more recent times my husband has become a dab hand at making them. They look impressive and we recently made them for the cafe at our local allotment, and they went down a treat. Perfectly portable, they could be taken in a napkin to munch back at the plot.
Then I made them last week for a Saturday night picnic in the park. I want it to be our new summer tradition. Instead of having friends over for dinner, which can take the whole day to prepare for, a Saturday night picnic is similarly sociable, but you don’t need to make quite so much effort, as everyone can bring something. Start it at 5pm so you can feed the kids early, and then as they go off for a cartwheel/back flip extravaganza, you can tuck in to the rest of the food (and the prosecco). By 8pm everyone’s fed, you’ve actually managed to have a conversation with your friends and the kids still get to bed on time. Perfect.
I made these arancini balls using Bertolli’s new butter and olive oil spread, which they say is perfect for cooking as it doesn’t burn like butter, as the olive oil lets it go to a higher temperature. I can vouch for that, being the most distracted cook ever. I’ve just fried some flatbreads for lunch (so much nicer than just warming through!) and left the butter/olive oil on for too long and it would definitely have burnt if it had been butter.
It’s flexible too. As well as using it to make the risotto for the arancini balls, I’ve made some fairy cakes for the 9yo’s class and they seemed to go down well (the kilos of sprinkles and icing could have also been the attraction!). Then I made a sponge for a trifle (I know! what a lunatic! but I couldn’t find any Madeira cake locally) and it worked well in that too. Keeps in the fridge – which cannot be said for butter in our household, which we seem to gorge on, and never have any when it comes to cooking.
[This is a sponsored post, but my opinion is my own.]
Parsley pesto arancini balls
Start to finish: ages – at least an hour. Quicker if you have risotto leftovers.
Small bunch of spring onions, sliced
20g of Bertolli with Butter and Olive Oil
250g aborio rice
800ml chicken stock, boiling
15g Parmesan, grated
Large bunch parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed
50g toasted almonds
Virgin olive oil – add to required consistency
70g mozzarella, chopped into cubes
170g plain flour
Oil to fry
Place the Bertolli with butter in a large saucepan over the heat. Once it’s melted fry the spring onions until translucent. Add the rice, and fry until each grain is covered in oil. Slowly add hot stock, spoonful by spoonful until it’s all absorbed. Stir in the grated Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
Place in a flat bowl and cool quickly in the fridge.
Whilst it is cooling, make the pesto.
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until they are a paste. Add enough olive oil so the paste is glossy and smooth.
Prepare the batter by mixing the flour and egg in a bowl. Add enough water to make the solution less dough-y and more like pancake batter. Pour out the breadcrumbs on to a large plate.
Once the rice is cooled, stir in the mozzarella. Divide into 8.
Take a handful of rice, roll into a loose ball and spoon some pesto into the middle. Fold the ball around it a little and plug the gap with a little more rice.
Place each ball in the batter, roll it in the breadcrumbs and put on a clean plate.
Fill a large pan a third high with vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot – test by seeing if it sizzles when you throw a breadcrumb in it – add a batch of the arancini. Fry till golden and place on a paper towel, and repeat with the next batch.
Serve with salad.