For me there is no greater pleasure than taking a dish that is absolutely divine to eat but on the slightly unhealthful side and switching things up to retain that sensational flavour but with a nutritious twist.
I am strongly of the thinking that a healthful diet and lifestyle should be enjoyable and approachable to all and these stunning baked arancini are the perfect example of how fantastic food can nourish both our foodie hearts and long term health.
Usually coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried, the essence of arancini is in the perfectly cooked and seasoned risotto base being surrounded by a crisp, golden exterior. With a little kitchen wizardry and the fantastic Organico product range (my firm favourites when it comes to Mediterranean staples) this ‘healthified’ re-imagining sings of a summer Italian evening but without the potential negative effects that come with things like fried foods.
Make these in a big batch and keep them in the fridge for a week as quick grab and go lunch or dinner additions, or simply serve them up straight from the oven and watch them disappear faster than you can say “Buon Apetito”!
For the risotto:
- 250g Organico asparagus risotto *
- 1 small red onion
- 1 litre boiling water
- 1 large handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup Organico sun dried tomatoes
- 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
*you can easily do this with plain arborio or carnoli rice, just use vegetable or chicken stock in replacement of the boiling water.
For the arancini coating:
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 1 organic egg
- 1 heaped tsp dried mixed herbs
- Pinch Himalayan salt
- Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 can organic plum tomatoes
- Mixed leaves
- 1 small fennel bulb
- 1-2 tart apples
- 1 tbsp black onion seeds
- Olive oil & lemon juice to dress
- To make the risotto finely dice the onion and add to a large sauté pan with the coconut oil. Heat on a low flame and leave to soften for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Add the rice to the pan tossing to coat everything in the fragrant oil then add 1/3 of the boiling water and leave to simmer for 5 minutes. Gradually add the rest of the water as the rice absorbs it, stirring now and again to encourage a super creamy texture. You want to keep cooking it slightly passed a normal risotto, not so it’s dry but so there isn’t any loose liquid left in the pan. Stir through the chopped parsley then decant to a bowl and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
- Chop the sun-dried tomatoes into rough pieces, take 2 shallow bowls cracking the egg into one and whisking roughly, and adding the ground almonds, salt, pepper and dried herbs to the other.
- Preheat the oven to 200C and line a flat tray with baking parchment.
- Once the risotto has cooled enough to handle take a tablespoon’s worth in the palm of one hand, add a piece of sun-dried tomato to the centre, then a little more of the rice mix to cover. Roll into a ball and coat first in the egg then the almond mixture. Place on the baking tray and continue with the rest of the mixture. Bake for 20 minutes flipping halfway through.
- To make the salad finely slice the apple and fennel, toss with the oil and lemon juice and sprinkle over the black onion seeds. Open the can of tomatoes and use a small sharp knife to roughly chop them in the can.
- Add a handful of leaves to each plate, top with the fennel and apple mix and add a generous spoonful of the tomatoes.
- Once ready crown with your golden arancini and dive in!
- They will also keep for a week in the fridge (but honestly I doubt they’ll last that long!) and can either be eaten cold or re-warmed in a hot oven for 5-10 minutes.