Pumpkin and mozzarella arancini

These sweet, crunchy and creamy little snacks are absolutely the perfect way to use leftover pumpkin or butternut squash risotto. In fact it’s worth making extra risotto just so you can have these the next day. I provide the full risotto recipe here and then how to make the arancini. I served them with some tomato sauce left over from making pizza.

Makes 4 arancini after risotto for 2

Ingredients

Risotto: 350 g risotto rice; about 1 kg sweet fleshed pumpkin or squash (Crown Prince or butternut), peeled and cut into large chunks; 1 tsp ground fennel; glass dry white wine; 1 litre hot vegetable stock; ½ medium onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 stick celery, 1 small carrot, all finely chopped; 2 tbsp olive oil; 1 tsp chopped fresh sage; 3 tbsp parmesan; 1 tsp truffle oil (optional); salt and black pepper

Arancini:  1 litre sunflower oil for deep frying; 1 egg, whisked; plain flour, sifted; fresh bread crumbs; 4 small pieces buffalo mozzarella

Preparation

Risotto:

Turn the oven on to 200ºC. Place the pumpkin pieces into a roasting dish, coat with olive oil and sprinkle over the ground fennel and some salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for about 30–40 minutes until soft all the way through. Reserve about one third of the pumpkin and place the rest into a food processor with some stock and blitz until well pureed.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan and cook the onion, garlic, celery and carrot until soft then push to the sides of the pan or remove. Turn up the heat and add in the rice. Cook for a couple of minutes until just lightly ‘toasting’ and turn the heat back down to medium. Mix back in with the garlic, onion, carrot and celery and add the wine.

Simmer together, stirring until the wine has been absorbed then add the pumpkin purée. Then start to add in the stock, a ladle at a time as it is absorbed. Keep stirring. After about 10 minutes stir in the chopped sage. After about 20 minutes, check the rice. If it’s cooked it will be soft on the outside with a gentle bite still in the centre. If it’s not keep adding stock, or water if you’ve run out of stock, until it’s ready. You will want a small amount of liquid still present to keep the rice loose.

Stir in the parmesan and the reserved roast pumpkin pieces, taste and season. Serve with a little truffle oil drizzled over the top and, if you like, a few fried sage leaves.

If you’re serving two, you should have about half the risotto left over. Allow to cool and then place in the fridge.

Arancini:

Take a small handful of cold risotto, flatten out in your hand and push a small dent in the centre. Place a piece of mozzarella into the dent and ‘wrap’ the rest of the risotto around this. Form into a ball. Repeat for the rest of the rice then place in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Line up three plates, put the flour in one, the whisked egg in the other and the breadcrumbs in the third.

Heat the sunflower oil in a large pan or wok (no more than half full), or use a deep fryer (I don’t have one).

Take the risotto balls out of the fridge and roll one at a time in each of the plates in sequence: flour, egg, breadcrumbs. They should be thoroughly breaded. Use a slotted soon to immerse gently in the hot oil and deep fry for about 10 minutes, until golden all over and hot all the way through (use a skewer to check).

Take out of the oil, drain on kitchen paper and serve while still hot or use in a picnic.

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