Do you know what risotto and arancini have in common? Of course, if you’ve eaten both of these things before, you probably already know that they’re made from arborio rice. But did you realize that arancini can be made entirely from leftover risotto? That’s right – arancini are essentially just fried balls of risotto with an ooey gooey piece of mozzarella in the middle!
Because you can get 2 dishes in 1 from risotto (and essentially, extra bang for your buck), that makes it the ultimate meal option. It’s also ideal for pleasing any fussy eater(s) you might have in your home, who might not want to have the same thing for leftovers the following day!
I’ve partnered with U.S.A Rice to encourage you to Think Rice in 5 different ways for 5 different days, or 5 different meals. With everyone at home and looking for meal ideas, rice is one of the best things you can have in your pantry! It’s such an important grain and is the most widely consumed staple in almost every single culture in the world. It’s nutritional, affordable (at only about 10 cents per serving), and extremely versatile! Something you can eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a snack, there are literally THOUSANDS of different ways you can prepare rice! Aside from the recipes that I’ll be sharing today, you can make fried rice, paella, rice & peas, rice pudding, rice cakes, rice krispies, rice casserole – the list goes on and on! A great resource, if you’re looking for more meal inspo using rice, is: http://riceinfo.com.
Fun Facts about Rice that May Surprise You
Did you know that rice is naturally gluten-free? It’s true – all varieties, including white, brown, long grain, are naturally free of gluten.
Did you know that rice is one of the least allergenic foods you can find? Well, it is! And this makes it perfect for people who may have certain food allergies or sensitivities.
And did you know that rice is virtually sodium-free, fat-free and, more specifically, contains no trans or saturated fat? It’s actually chock-full of things that are good for you. It’s rich in potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and iron, which is why I’m always fully stocked up on it in my pantry!
How to Prepare Rice 2 Ways: Risotto & Arancini
Today, I’ll be showing you a couple of my favourite ways to prepare U.S.-grown rice: risotto & arancini. Now, you might be thinking, “Isn’t arborio rice made in Italy?”. It is, but you probably weren’t aware that arborio rice is also grown in the U.S.! And U.S.-grown rice is as local as it gets for Canadians.
Since I can’t eat out at my fave Italian spots in the city right now, these rice dishes have allowed me to have gourmet quality Italian meals (which are super easy to prepare), in the comfort of my own home! Here are the recipes.
Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto
A classic one pot meal! Risotto can be made in any number of ways and with any number of ingredients. Contrary to what many believe, it doesn't require you to slave over your stove, stirring constantly!
In a medium pot, bring chicken stock to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer.
In a separate, large, wide-based pot, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. of butter over medium-high heat. Add chopped mushrooms, thyme, salt & pepper to taste. Sauté mushrooms, stirring frequently, until mushrooms have released all their liquid and the liquid has evaporated. Remove mushrooms from the pot and set them aside.
In the same pot, add 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter, and reduce heat to medium. Add shallots and sauté for a couple of minutes until a bit translucent, stirring frequently. Add garlic and continue to sauté until garlic is translucent.
De-glaze the bottom of the pot with white wine. Use spoon to get all the bits from the bottom of the pot and stir to combine well. When the wine is nearly completely evaporated, add rice and stir.
You will repeat the following process 3 times (each turn, 3-4 minutes): ladle 1.5 cups of chicken stock into the pot, stir well and let cook. You can stir occasionally, but don't need to stir constantly. You will see the rice start to absorb the liquid and expand. When the stock is nearly completely evaporated, repeat.
Just before adding your final 1.5 cups of chicken stock, add chopped asparagus to the pot. Add last 1.5 cups of chicken stock, lower the heat and cover to allow the asparagus to cook for a couple of minutes until cooked through but still crunchy on the outside.
Remove pot from the heat when the rice is just about al dente. The liquid should not be completely evaporated (as it will continue to thicken up off the stove). You want the rice to be slightly sloppy-looking.
Add mushrooms back to the pot. Stir in 1 tbsp. of butter and parmigiano reggiano. Cover and let stand for 3-5 minutes. Before serving, garnish with chopped parsley and extra grated parmigiano, if desired. Serve and enjoy!
Arancini di Riso (Risotto Balls)
The perfect way to repurpose leftover risotto. Eat piping hot and dip in marinara sauce for a delicious snack or appetizer!
Add vegetable oil to a large pot set over medium-high heat. Oil should reach about 2-3" and should be enough to submerge 3/4 of the arancini.
In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs. Add risotto, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, and parmigiano. Stir to combine well. Add the other 1/2 of your bread crumbs to a separate plate.
Scoop about 2 tbsp. of mixture into your hands. Insert a mozzarella cube into the centre. Close completely and form into a round ball using your hands. Roll arancino around in bread crumbs to coat evenly. Continue this process, working in batches of about 4-5 arancini.
Add arancini to large pot to fry, turning occasionally to ensure they all fry evenly. Continue frying until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes). Remove and place on a plate with paper towel, to soak up excess oil.
Eat on their own or dip in a marinara sauce. Enjoy!
I hope this post inspires you to think of the many ways you can prepare rice in your household!
*This post was done in partnership with U.S.A Rice. However, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.