These delicious rice balls are almost entirely prepared in the oven, leaving your hands free to do other things. Baking the arancini also significantly reduces the amount of oil, without compromising on flavour. They are a bit softer than fried arancini, but I don’t think that’s such a big deal.
The best part is that the risotto and the tomatoes can be done ahead of time, up to three days in the fridge or three months in the freezer, so the arancini can be made in no time at all.
Makes about 36 balls, around 4cm (1 1/2″) across
250g (9 oz) cherry or grape tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
40g (3 tbsp) butter
30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
2 large egg yolks (or 1 large egg)
handful of basil leaves, finely chopped (I used 4 sprigs)
50g (1/2 cup) finely grated parmesan
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
olive oil spray
Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).
Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange cut side up in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt, pepper and sugar and roast in the centre of the oven for about two hours. They should be browning and there shouldn’t be too much liquid.
Using a food processor, purée tomatoes with any juice or oil in the pan until smooth. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F) with a rack positioned in the lower section.
Put the oil and butter in a casserole on the stovetop over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook until fragrant but not browned, about two minutes.
Stir in the rice so it is well coated with oil and toast it for a couple of minutes. Pour in the wine and turn up the heat so it simmers away, stirring constantly. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.
Place the casserole in the oven for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is soft, set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Spread breadcrumbs in a wide, shallow dish.
Add the puréed tomatoes, egg yolks (or egg), basil and parmesan to the cooled risotto and mix to combine.
Take scoops and mixture and form into balls about 4cm (1 1/2″) across, roll in breadcrumbs and place on baking sheet.
Spray balls with olive oil and place on centre rack of oven. Bake at 200° (390°F) for 20 minutes, then increase temperature to 220° (430°F) and bake for a further 10 minutes or so, until golden.