Spinach Risotto Balls (Arancini)

    5 hours 25 min

    This dish may take a little effort to make, but the results are really worth it. Spinach risotto is chilled, then rolled into balls with a cube of mozzarella in the centre, breaded and deep fried. Serve as a snack, appetiser, starter or for a main.

    18 people made this

    Serves: 10 

    • 1 litre chicken stock
    • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
    • 340g Arborio (risotto) rice
    • sea salt and pepper to taste
    • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 250ml white wine
    • 60g chopped fresh spinach
    • 30g butter
    • 120g grated Parmesan cheese
    • 225g mozzarella cheese, cut into 1.25cm cubes
    • 250g plain flour
    • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
    • 240g seasoned breadcrumbs
    • vegetable oil for deep frying

    Prep:45min  ›  Cook:40min  ›  Extra time:4hr chilling  ›  Ready in:5hr25min 

    1. Bring 1 litre chicken stock and saffron threads to the boil in a saucepan over high heat. Stir in Arborio rice, return to the boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the rice is tender, yet still a little firm, about 16 minutes.
    2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion and cook for one minute, then stir in garlic and continue cooking until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in wine, spinach and butter and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and fold in cooked rice and Parmesan cheese; cook a few minutes until the mixture is a little stiff. Spread onto a baking tray and cool in the refrigerator until completely cold, 4 hours to overnight.
    3. Once the rice mixture has cooled, form the risotto balls by enclosing a cube of mozzarella cheese in about 3 tablespoons of the rice to form a 2.5cm ball; set aside. When you have finished making the balls, place flour, eggs and breadcrumbs into separate, shallow bowls. One-by-one, gently roll the risotto balls in the flour to coat, then shake off excess. Dip into beaten egg, then roll in breadcrumbs; set aside.
    4. Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer or electric frying pan to 180 degrees C.
    5. Deep fry the risotto balls 5 or 6 at a time in the hot oil until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Be sure to roll the risotto balls around with a metal spoon as they cook so they are evenly browned on all sides. Drain on kitchen towels and serve hot.

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    Reviews in English (16)


    Rather than fry such a lovely side dish, I baked these at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Worked beautifully. These are quite time-consuming, and would work well to prepare the "balls" ahead of time, then bake when ready -- would be GREAT at for a dinner party. One time-saver: I stuck the rice mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes rather than chilling it overnight.  -  22 May 2010  (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)


    Deelish! The only things I did differently were to omit the saffron (as I had none on hand) and used extra virgin olive oil for the frying insteead of regular vegetable oil. I probably used more spinach than specified, too. But it came out wonderful. These were gobbled up at a drink/appetizer party I had recently. Great recipe so thanks to a fellow Albuquerquean!  -  15 Oct 2007  (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)


    I made this for a potluck and it was a HIT! I fried them the night before, and then reheated them in the oven until warm, and served with marinara sauce. Everyone loved them, including my picky sister!I might substitute water for the wine next time, and I would only use about 1/2 of an onion, because the flavors came off pretty strong, but it was still yummy.  -  03 Dec 2007  (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)