It may take a lot of time and patience to stir up a batch of risotto, but fans of the hearty Italian comfort dish know it’s worth it. Make the effort even more worthwhile by turning it into crispy arancini balls for the next day’s lunch. Shaped into thick patties or balls – preferably around a chunk of cheese – then rolled in Panko crumbs and shallow fried, arancini can liven up any lunch bag.
Make these in the morning and wrap in foil to keep warm, then pack in a sandwich box to keep from getting crushed. Or, make them the night before and heat in the microwave in the morning.
meltable cheese, such as mozzarella or Havarti
1–2 eggs, beaten
panko or dry breadcrumbs
canola oil, for cooking
tomato or marinara sauce, for dipping
Cut the cheese into half-inch cubes; shape cold risotto around it, forming a ball. Beat an egg or two in a shallow bowl with a fork, and put some breadcrumbs into another bowl. Heat a couple inches of oil until hot but not smoking; a scrap of bread should sizzle when dipped in.
Roll each risotto ball in the beaten egg, then in panko or bread crumbs to coat. Lower gently into the hot oil and cook, turning as needed, until crisp and golden all over.
Serve warm, with marinara sauce for dipping, or cool and pack to take for lunch.
One batch of risotto makes about 1 dozen egg-sized arancini.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, April 2014.