olive & semi-dried tomato arancini

makes 40

Crikey it feels like it’s been a while! I promise to address that and between now and the new year there will be at least one new recipe on the blog each week. Today’s is one I put together for Fairfax, timed for Christmas entertaining – actually I will be serving them at my birthday shindig, so any excuse will do really. I have been making arancini for about a billion years (oh my God, actually about 25…), and I bloody love them. All the work of making the risotto, rolling and coating in breadcrumbs is done well in advance, then all you have to do is drop them in hot oil to cook before serving. These ones are strongly flavoured with salty black olives and intense semi-dried tomatoes contrasted by the oozing melted mozzarella in the middle. Add the crunchy crumbed exterior and a good dollop of aioli and basically it is a perfect party mouthful. (And easy, I promise – it sounds tricky but they’re simple to make albeit a tiny bit time consuming…well worth it).

Aaaaand, in other news – I have just had the darling Hoob to stay for a few nights which was wonderful. He is such a sweetheart and great company, I miss him again now that he’s gone! My favourite little outing was a night at Burger Fuel and watching Murder on the Orient Express at the movies. Despite my being a massive fan of David Suchet I thought Kenneth Branagh was OK in the movie (except for the bloody moustache and his French accent…), while Michelle Pfeiffer was fabulous. Right so now Rich is back in Welly and Pog arrives from Melbourne on Friday – yay! I can’t wait to see him and have some adventures for my birthday – we are going to be doing a book signing at Karen Walker from 12pm-1pm this Saturday (more details tomorrow), and head out to Waiheke on the actual day, for dinner and a night on the island. I can’t wait.

Meanwhile I have been falling apart a little bit thanks to a lot of work stress at the end of a bloody stressful year – bleeding gums and mouth ulcers (lovely), and migraines being the main culprits. Thankfully I got on top of everything really quickly and am almost back to normal – but I have to say, I can not wait to see the start of 2018. I feel like I have almost wished the last two years away, and I don’t want to do that again. Anyhoo – more news on the Karen Walker book signing tomorrow…see you then!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
sea salt and black pepper
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 1/4 cups good quality vegetable stock
1/2 cup finely chopped black olives (de-stone them yourself for maximum flavour)
½ cup finaley chopped semi-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
150g block mozzarella cut into 1.5cm cubes
4 cups breadcrumbs
3 eggs, whisked
5 cups high heat cooking oil
Good quality garlicky aioli to serve

Heat the olive oil in a big saucepan and add the onion, cumin seeds, garlic, oregano, chilli flakes, sea salt and black pepper.  Cook for 10 minutes over a medium gentle heat, then add the rice and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes. Add wine and cook for two minutes while heating the stock in a separate saucepan. Once most of the wine is absorbed add tomato paste and 2/3 cup of stock. Keep stirring, adding warm stock as it becomes absorbed, ensuring the rice never dries out. After 20 minutes add the olives and tomatoes to the rice with the last of the stock and cook a further 4-5 minutes – the rice should be cooked but not mushy. Remove from the heat and stir through the grated parmesan. Transfer the risotto to a container and chill until cool. OK – prepare yourself, this sounds like a real drag, but its not too bad! Take tablespoonfuls of cold risotto and poke a cheese cube in the middle. Roll into a ball then roll into breadcrumbs to coat. Do all of them, then starting with the first one again dip into whisked egg and roll in breadcrumbs again. You should end up with about 40. Store in the fridge for at least an hour before cooking and up to over night.

Heat the oil in a large deep saucepan until it has a sheen on the surface and a bread cube dropped in will pop up to the surface and fry to golden in about 20 seconds. Fry the rice balls in batches of 5-6 at a time for 3-4 minutes until golden and heated through. Serve immediately with aioli.


    1. Hi Mish – God it’s such a fraught question as the recommended oils are changing all the time! I used to suggesrt rice bran oil but apparently that is now deemed as terrible – can I tentatively say coconut oil (also occasionally demonised) or olive oil!? 🙂

  1. Oh yum, who can resist an Arancini! Best wishes for you birthday Sarah, hope you have a fabulous weekend.

  2. Hi Sarah, how long would you recommend to really let the risotto cool and is it possible to cool it in the freezer? We are running on quite a tight schedule to get these ready in time.

    1. Hi Bethany – you can definitely chill it in the freezer – best in a shallow dish so it cools faster! The key thing is to also give them some chill time once rolled and before they are fried 🙂

  3. Hello Sarah,
    Do you think these would freeze well uncooked, then once out of the freezer you could fry from frozen?

    1. Hi Sage – you can, but need to defrost them in the fridge before frying (at least partly) so they’re not rock-solid in the middle. They keep, once mad (unfrozen) for 3 days in the fridge if that helps too?:)

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