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TASTE / From Risotto to Arancini

Following on from the last cooking evening at Olive and Rosy with the theme of cold rice and pasta, I thought I would add a recipe for Arancini as this was one dish we didn’t have time to cover on this occasion.

Originating from Sicily in the 10th century, the name translates as "little orange", deriving from their similarity in shape and colour after cooking. As always there are regional variations across the island, in both flavour and shape, with fillings including ragu, cheese, peas, ham, mushrooms or aubergine.

italian recipe, risotto,

For many years I was a little nervous of making arancini, due to the reheating of rice element, however Stefano has reassured and convinced me over the years. And they really are a great dish for using up risotto and ensuring no food waste. A couple of food safety tips to bear in mind if you have similar uncertainty, are to cool the risotto rice quickly and chill overnight in the fridge. Also, when making up the balls keep them small to ensure they will be well heated through.

I’ve based this recipe on one I found on the Love Food, Hate Waste website by Masterchef contestant Imran Nathoo. This is a rice only version, using up a mushroom risotto. For a more typical mozzarella filling try this one.

It takes around 20 - 30 minutes and serves 2 but this all depends on how much left-over risotto you have of course!


Portion/s of leftover risotto

2 end slices of bread (stale bread works better)

2 sprigs of rosemary

1 egg

Half a cup of plain flour

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 litre of oil for deep frying


1.Blitz the end slices of the bread with the leaves of two rosemary sprigs to a fine crumb. It makes lots so keep any you don’t use in an air-tight container for another dish.

Place the herbed bread crumbs in a large bowl.

2.Put the flour into a separate bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix through.

3.Break the egg and place in another bowl and beat.

4. Take a little of the cold risotto and form into small ball size portions. Do this until all the risotto is used.

5.Take each risotto ball in turn and dip into the seasoned flour, shake off the excess flour.

6.Then dip this floured risotto ball into the eggs to coat. As a vegan alternative you could use a dairy-free milk instead.

7.Finally place this in the bowl with the herbed bread crumbs and coat well.

8.Place the oil in a deep pan, heat to 180c (or use a deep fat fryer) and fry each risotto ball coated in the herbed bread crumbs until golden.

9.Remove from the hot oil carefully to some kitchen roll on a tray to drain excess oil.


If you aren’t keen on the deep frying, instead you could flatten in order to shallow fry or even oven bake.

For something a little more ambitious, here’s a gluten-free recipe for polenta arancini with 'Nduja and Piave.

Ciccio's Kitchen

Arancini make for perfect street food. We recommend trying Ciccio's L'arancino (pictured above) if you are in the Bristol area. You can find him regularly at the Tobacco Factory Market and other locations.

For Nigel Slater's leftover rice ideas take a look here.

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