The arancini or arancine (named after the little oranges) are a popular specialty in Sicily where they are enjoyed especially on the day of Saint Lucia on the 13th of December.
The classic recipe includes a filling of “ragù di carne” (more or less a classical bolognaise sauce) and mozzarella, but in many case you will find different additions especially green peas and other cheese as provolone.
For this recipe I used the Bolognaise sauce my dear son prepared two days ago (lucky mother 😉 and the risotto I prepared the day before as side dish in order to use the leftovers.
The essentials: cooked rice, meat sauce with tomatoes, cheese and coating with egg and bread crumbs.
Traditionally they have to deep fried, but I prefer to bake them in the oven on order to make them lighter and healthier.
Summer Pasta with Basil, Tomatoes and Cheese
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 1/2 cups of rice
- 1/2 cup of white wine
- 4 cups of meat or vegetal broth, boiling
- Water, boiling
- 1 pinch Saffron
- 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
ragù di carne
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 150 g minced beef
- ½ cup of white wine
- 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (from the tin will work well)
- 4 basil leaves. chopped ( alternative 1 basil leaf)
- 1 small carrot , grated (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped celery (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
For assembling, coating and finishing
- 100 g mozzarella, chopped and well drained
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- Oil for frying or olive oil for spraying if baking in the oven
- Place onion and butter in big pot and fry until translucent.
- Add rice and fry for a few minutes stirring constantly until fragrant.
- Add wine and fry until adsorbed.
- Add broth and saffron. Simmer stirring occasionally until tender. From time to time you will may to add little boiled water if the rice is still too hard. This will take about 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from the heat fold in the parmesan cheese and let cool down completely.
- In the meantime prepare the meat sauce; fry the onion in the oil and when translucent add the meat. Fry stirring constantly until the meat has changed the color.
- Add the wine and cook until evaporated.
- Add tomatoes, basil, carrots and celery. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook until all liquid is adsorbed. Let cool down completely.
- For assembling place 2 tablespoon of cooked rice in the left hand, press the rice together and poke a hole in the middle and add 1 tablespoon ragù filling in the center and add a piece of mozzarella, then plug the hole with extra rice. Repeat until all the rice is used up.
- Combine egg and flour in a small bowl. Prepare a deep dish with the breadcrumbs.
- Frying method: Heat the oil in a deep pan, no more than a third full, to 170°C, or until a breadcrumb sizzles on contact. As it is heating, dip each rice ball into the egg mixture to coat, then into the breadcrumbs, heaping them on top until it is well covered. Cook in batches until golden brown, making sure the oil comes back up to temperature between batches, and drain on kitchen towel. S
- Baking method: Dip each rice ball into the egg mixture to coat, then into the breadcrumbs, heaping them on top until it is well covered. Place the balls on a baking try with parchment foil. Spray some oil until coated and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C until golden brown. Some of them may break while cooking but these much lighter than the fried ones.
- Sprinkle with a little salt while still warm and serve hot or cold.