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Finally, part three, la pièce de résistance (or the Italian equivalent of the phrase, whatever that might be~): baked arancini!

The reason I decided to make these for my mom was because I made her a coupon a few years back promising to make arancini for her. Time passed and she never brought it up, so I decided to go ahead and just make them—this gift acted as the fulfillment of a past promise as well as a delicious surprise! 🙂

Going the baking route, I looked at various recipes I found for arancini on the internet, but I couldn’t find one that really excited me, so I winged it and created my own! Except for the mozzarella balls, I already had all the ingredients in my pantry, so it really was an easy and cheap dish to make. It made for a delicious lunch and could also make for a great dinner appetizer or party dish!

To begin, I made the rice the night before, so that it would have enough time to cool down. While many recipes I found online use leftover risotto as the rice portion of the dish, I didn’t have any leftover risotto on hand. Instead, I grabbed the first time of rice I found in the pantry, which happened to be Calrose, and used that. To add flavor to the rice, I melted some butter, added some dried parsley, and cooked the rice this combo for a few minutes. Then, I added some Better Than Bouillon (chicken flavor) to warm water instead of cooking the rice in just water. This adds a lot of flavor to the rice, so much so that I was tempted to just eat it right then and there! 😉

To the cold rice I added red pepper flakes, dried thyme, dried basil, beaten eggs, a couple small handfuls of grated parmigiano-reggiano I had grated a week earlier, salt, and black pepper. I’m sure fresh herbs would taste wonderful, but I didn’t have any at the time, so dried works wonderfully. I thought my rice mixture was a little too wet, so next time I might try two eggs first. Even though it I thought the mixture was very wet and a bit hard to handle, the end result was fantastic!

In a bowl, I poured in a good amount of Italian style bread crumbs. Then, on a plate, I cut the balls of mozzarella into smaller pieces.

Assembling the balls is where it gets messy, but that’s the fun of cooking! 😀 I scooped some rice into my hand, flattened it, placed a piece of cheese on top, wrapped the rice around it, rolled the ball in  bread crumbs, and then set it on a baking sheet. Some rice will fall off into the bread crumbs. Just push them to the outer edges and keep on rolling!

Put them in the oven for twenty minutes and deliciousness comes out!

Serve with marinara sauce and top with extra parmigiano-reggiano, and then enjoy. 🙂

Out of this also came a bonus ‘recipe’:

With leftover marinara sauce, a leftover mozzarella ball, and wheat English muffins that were in my refrigerator, I made a mini pizzas for lunch the next day!

Baked Arancini

Ingredients:

1 cup of uncooked rice

1 tablespoon of butter

2 teaspoons of dried parsley

2 teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon

2 cups of warm water

2-3 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon or less of fine black pepper

1 teaspoon or less of Kosher salt

1-1.5 teaspoons of dried basil

Approximately 1/3 cup of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano + extra for on top of the arancini after they are cooked

Italian style bread crumbs

Small balls of mozzarella

Marinara sauce of your choice

Cooking spay

Place a pot over medium heat and melt a tablespoon of butter. Add in the rice and dried parsley and cook for a few minutes while stirring occasionally. Add the Better Than Bouillon to the water and stir. (If you don’t have Better Than Bouillon, then use 2 cups of your choice of stock.) Pour into the pot of rice and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 15 minutes and stir. Cook longer if there is still water in the pot. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover 2 baking sheets with foil and spray with oil.

Once the rice is cooled, add the following ingredients to it and mix them all together: eggs, red pepper flakes, thyme, black pepper, salt, basil, and parmigiano-reggiano. Cut up the mozzarella on a plate. Pour bread crumbs into a bowl.

Place about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture into your hand, flatten it over your fingers, placed a piece of cheese on top, wrapped the rice around around the mozzarella, rolled the ball in bread crumbs, and then set it on a baking sheet. Repeat until you run out of rice mixture. Line the balls on the baking sheets so that they are evenly spaced in a 3 by 4 alignment. There will be approximately 20 balls. Place them in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Pour some marinara sauce onto a plate, place the arrancini on it, and sprinkle with parmigiano-reggiano.

BONUS ‘recipe’: English Muffin Pizza

Place an open English muffin on a baking sheet, spray with oil, and toast in oven for a couple minutes. Spread on marinara sauce and place on slices of mozzarella. Cook in the oven until the cheese melts.

Enjoy!

Yours smiling,

Miss Mo.

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