Arancini are a traditional Sicilian dish, comprising of balls of cooked risotto rice that have been stuffed, coated with breadcrumbs and then gently fried in oil until deliciously golden and crispy. In Sicily, arancini are a common street food dish which is served all year round!
The most common types of arancini is an al ragu, which is filled with meat, and an al burro, which is filled with ham and cheese within a béchamel sauce.
We’ve put a twist on the classic and included the wholesome butternut squash and fontina cheese. The squash will give a soft, nutty and slightly sweet taste, whilst the fontina cheese will give a gentle butteriness to the dish.
We also pair our arancini balls with a delicious homemade salsa verde. This is made through a combination of chopped herbs, capers, cornichons, and of course a sprinkle of Maldon Salt for elevation!
You can wash these down with our delectable Italian Negroni Spagliato, a cocktail in which is both vibrant in taste and looks! It is made from using prosecco instead of gin, with Campari and vermouth.
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Place the diced butternut squash onto a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Place the tray into the preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes until the squash is tender and golden.
- In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 30g butter until they are melted and foaming. Add the finely chopped onion and a generous pinch of Maldon Salt. Gently fry the onion over a low heat until they turn translucent and soft, without catching or going golden. Next add the crushed garlic and chopped sage and fry this for an additional 3 minutes.
- Next add the arborio rice and stir into the onions and garlic so the grains are well coated. Fry for a couple of minutes before adding the white wine. Allow the white wine to bubble and be absorbed by the rice. Once the wine is absorbed begin adding the hot vegetable stock a ladle at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed by the rice before adding the next. The rice should be tender but still with a little bite.
- Take half the roasted butternut squash and place into a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth. Add the pureed butternut squash to the risotto and heat through until smooth and creamy. Now add the roasted butternut cubes and stir them through. It is important to season the risotto well, adding a good pinch of Maldon Salt and cracked black pepper – taste to check.
- Finally, take the risotto off the heat and add the 10g butter, stirring through to give a glossy finish. Set aside and allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge for at least 1 hour (it is best to do this the day before and leave in the fridge overnight).
- Once the risotto has been in the fridge, it is time to shape and roll the arancini balls. Take some risotto and flatten in the palm of your hand, then place a small chunk of fontina cheese in the middle before closing your palm and shaping the risotto around the cheese. Press firmly and roll the risotto into a ball just slightly smaller than a golf ball. Place this on to a baking tray and repeat with the remaining risotto and cheese.
- Take 3 bowls. In one bowl add the plain flour and then season it with Maldon Salt and cracked black pepper, mixing in well. In the second bowl add the egg and beat it. In the third bowl add the panko breadcrumbs. You want to coat the arancini balls in this order, starting with the flour and tapping off any excess, then the beaten egg and finally the panko – making sure to press the breadcrumbs in well. Repeat until all the balls are coated and then place them in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the salsa Verde. In a food processor add the olive oil and herbs and pulse together until they are roughly chopped but not completely smooth. Tip this into a bowl and add the chopped capers, cornichons, mustard, red wine vinegar and some Maldon Salt and cracked black pepper. Stir until combined and set aside.
- Place some oil into a large high sided pan so it is at least 3 inches deep. Heat it until it reaches 160C and then you are ready to fry. Fry the arancini for 2 – 3 minutes until they are golden brown and crisp on the outside, you may need to do this in small batches. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon or spider and place onto a tray or plate with some kitchen paper so it can absorb any excess oil.
- When all the arancini are fried serve them warm on a platter with the salsa Verde to dip. These are perfect alongside a sparkling bitter-citrus Negroni Spagliato.
Can this be made vegan?
This recipe can easily be adapted to become vegan-friendly! Instead of the fontina cheese, you can use a mixture of both nutritional yeast and soy cream to create a cheese-like flavour to the arancini balls.
Make sure to use vegan white wine instead of your usual, as most white wines usually contain animal-derived fining agents within the ingredients. Most supermarkets will carry this alternative for you. Look out for the label ‘Certified Vegan’ as the registered trademark.
What can you serve with arancini balls?
Arancini balls can be served with a multitude of things!
You can include arancini within your cheese platters, which is a popular choice amongst many! You can accompany this with a delicious fig jam amongst a bed of freshly baked focaccia.
If you want to serve your arancini balls with something warmer, we recommend pairing the balls with our delicious Squash Soup with Crispy Mushrooms, made by the talented Xanthe Gladstone. Not only is this great for warming yourself up during the cold days, but the pairing of both squashes in the arancini and soup go beautifully together!
Lastly, if you are looking for something lighter, why not try our delicious Stir Fried Kale with Chilli and Fried Garlic. This makes a perfect mid-week side dish, where the arancini balls can be gently added to give depth to the recipe.
Can you make these ahead of time?
If you have time, it’s best to make the risotto up the day before and allow it to cool in the fridge overnight – it makes shaping them into balls and coating them in breadcrumbs much easier.