Last week I finally got round to making risotto again, its been a while. In a past life, I used to cook a lot of Italian food but following a relationship breakdown I think I found myself shying away from anything vaguely resembling Italy but I realise now the error of my ways - you can never run away from anything so tasty! I decided also to make it sound posh by translating it fully, as Arrancini with tomato and courgette sauce sounded a little lame in comparison to a more elegant sounding 'Arrancini con pomodoro e salsa di zucchine'!
So risotto was back on the menu, and it was quite a frugal one - using up some slices of leftover gammon from the freezer, frozen peas and a sad last few leaves of Cos lettuce that were loitering in the salad draw planning their escape route! Yes lettuce, you did read it right! I have made a similar one before (little gem also does well here), and with the lettuce just wilted in at the end makes a nice interesting crunch to the creamy rice and smokey salty gammon.
For the sauce, I had picked up a tube of chilli tomato puree for a bargain 25p on offer in Sainsburys that morning, just substitute with regular tomato puree if you don't have any in. The original risotto was made using grana padano which I reguarly buy from the supermarket but the following day I had a delivery, via mums house of some new cheeses from 'Divo' and used their 'Coarsely grated heart of Parmigiano Reggiano', I was a little wary of it having previous experience with dried up ready grated parmesan but this was very good, rich creamy and a perfect pairing for the dish.
Despite the risotto being very tasty I slapped away B's fork from eating the rest as it looked like there was enough left to finally attempt something I had craved for a long time - Arancini - which their name according to wiki originated from the Italian word for oranges, due to their shape... I vaguely remember having these a long time ago possibly at a food show or restaurant and so it finally my time to have a go! Yippee!
I guess you could make the Arrancini with any leftover risotto you like, this was my base recipe, which served us two the previous night and left enough to make 9 Arrancini. The risotto needs to be fully cooled before making the Arrancini.
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 finely chopped onion
225g arborio rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 slices cooked gammon finely chopped
2 heaped tbsp grana padano or parmesan grated
2 cos lettuce leaves, shredded
1 knorr herb stock pot into 1.5 pints boiling water
1) Melt the butter and oil, gently cook the onion and garlic without colouring, stir in the vermouth and allow to evaporate.
2) Stir in the rice and allow it to fully coat in the liquid, add a small amount of the stock to coat and allow to cook, once the liquid has evaporated, repeat the process gently stirring through until its almost cooked through.
3) Meanwhile place the peas in a jug with some of the remaining stock and cook for 3-4 minutes, stir it all into the risotto with the gammon pieces and lettuce, it should of absorbed most of the liquid now and be slightly loose in consistency. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese leaving a little for garnish.
Arrancini con pomodoro e salsa di zucchine Recipe
250g cold, leftover risotto
2 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano
1 beaten egg
small bowl plain flour
1/2 courgette, cut lengthways and into thin slices
1/2 finely sliced onion
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chilli tomato puree
390g chopped tomatoes (carton or tinned)
2 tsp dried Italian herbs
Fresh basil leaves, to garnish
2 tbsp grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to garnish
Spray oil for coating/ lining tray
Line a baking tray with foil, and spray with oil
1) Place the breadcrumbs with the Parmigiano Reggiano in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper. Have ready the beaten egg in another bowl and the flour in another bowl. A curved tablespoon is handy here for shaping! Mine are mini russian dolls which work perfectly!
2) Using the spoon and your hands, shape the risotto into a ball, gently dip into the flour, then the egg and then into the breadcrumbs.
3) Heat the oil in a large pan until moderately hot and fry the onion then garlic until lightly coloured, stir in the courgette slices and fry until lightly browned. Pre-heat the oven to about 180o
3) Stir through the tomato puree, and add the red wine vinegar and cook off the liquid, stir in the tomatoes, herbs and bring to a bubbling heat, cover and gently simmer. Stir now and then - you want a fairly thick sauce.
Put the arrancini in the oven, sprayed with oil and bake for 30 minutes, giving a gentle prod halfway to make sure they are not sticking to the tray.
4) Once everthing is nicely cooked through, spoon the sauce onto a plate, and place a desired amount of arrancini on top. Garnish with the basil leaves and Parmigiano Reggiano.
Considering they were my first attempt I was super happy with these - the Arrancini were crisp and surprisingly light and the sauce was rich tasty and was a very good match.
Many thanks to Divo for my cheese. This is not a sponsored posting
I've entered my dish over at Lavender and Lovage's Cooking with Herbs Challenge
Whilst I have never visited Italy - its definitely up high on the list of destinations I would love to visit and I am entering my 'Arrancini con pomodoro e salsa di zucchine' into a #TuscanyNowCookOff competition with Tuscany Now, an Italian and Tuscany Villa Rental Specialist to win a trip there, which would be so amazing to finally go there! You can find more details in this link.