We ended up with a whole bunch of leftover mushroom risotto that Rachel had made the other night. Anyone trying to work towards simpler living will know the importance of leveraging yesterday’s food effectively, and we’re starting to be great at it. Leftovers have two main career paths to choose from: getting eaten in strange combinations with other foods over the course of a few days, or being forgotten in the back of the fridge and left there for weeks. The first one is for grade A leftovers– the kind of food you had to restrain yourself from eating all at once the first night, because you knew you didn’t want to cook the next day and needed something to fill that meal slot. Grade B leftovers take the second path, which has a lot to do with guilt– either you feel bad wasting the food that went into it, or you’re worried about offending whoever made the dish, but let’s be honest: that food is destined for dumpsterville, regardless of how long it takes up residence in your fridge.
One of my favorite challenges, however, is option number 3: upgrading or repurposing leftovers into a new meal. That’s what happened with these risotto balls, (or “arancini” if you’re pretending to be Italian). They were already on track A to be eaten pretty quickly, so it was a tough call to give them a career change. But somewhere in the back of my brain I remembered the concept of risotto balls, and that really got the ball rolling bahahaa. . .
My inspiration for these came from this recipe from Epicurious and this recipe from Food.com, but neither one was quite what I was looking for. As is my tradition, I actually looked up about 50 recipes and then just did what I wanted to do in the first place (an advanced technique that my wife tells me is ridiculous, because she doesn’t understand). The issue was that I wanted to bake these little balls of wonder in the oven, but they’re usually deep fried. I’m not opposed to frying, but I try to find alternatives when it’s not totally crucial to the cooking process. These actually work really well in the oven, and since they have cheese in the middle already, they don’t need any extra oil or richness from frying.
Baked Cheesy Risotto Balls Recipe
3-ish cups leftover risotto
2 tb fresh parsley, chopped
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 3/4 in. cubes
1 cup bread crumbs
(makes about a dozen risotto balls)
This is pretty easy. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Mix the egg and parsley into the risotto.
Take each cheese cube and enclose it in a ball of risotto.
Roll each ball in breadcrumbs until thoroughly covered, then set aside on a baking pan.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until crispy and browner than when they started. If you want to add a little more color, lightly drizzle or spray some oil on the balls before baking. They will settle a little during baking as the cheese melts, but should keep themselves together pretty well.
Remove, cool for a couple minutes, then eat! We enjoyed our risotto balls with tomato sauce, but feel free to improvise if you have a good idea for a sauce or garnish.
Pretty great for leftovers night, huh?