On New Year’s Day, my husband and I each made a list of 20 things we wanted to accomplish in 2020, “20 for ’20” we called it. We also made a list of 20 things we wanted to do for our family or together as a couple. One of our 20 for ‘20 as a couple is to cook a new recipe together every month. We’re big fans of small plate bites and, in the midst of the March 2020 restaurant closures due to the covid-19 pandemic, we found ourselves missing the typical three-course dine-in experience of appetizer, entrée, and dessert. So, we decided to recreate one of our favorite restaurant apps at home – arancini.
My husband found a Food Network recipe, which we modified significantly to fit my vegetarian requirement, our tastes, and to work in our air fryer* vs. frying in oil. Either way, the prep work is a bit extensive, but we had fun with it, taking turns requesting 80s songs from Alexa on our kitchen’s Echo Show. We served with our favorite jarred marinara sauce for dipping.
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (separate into ½ cup portions), plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
Freshly ground coarse sea salt
Bring the broth and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice, reduce the heat to low and simmer until tender, about 20-25 minutes. While the rice cooks, you may want to knock out some of the additional prep work, or you can rock out to an impromptu dance party. Knock out, rock out - you decide. Spread the cooked rice on a parchment paper and let cool completely.
Combine the mozzarella, ½ cup of Parmesan, and parsley in a bowl; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then stir in the cooled rice, the other ½ cup of Parmesan and 2/3 cup breadcrumbs. Shape the mixture into 12 two-inch balls.
Pour the remaining breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Press your finger into the center of each rice ball, insert 2 teaspoons of the cheese/parsley mixture, then pinch the rice around the filling to enclose. Roll the balls in the breadcrumbs, season with salt, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Loosely cover and refrigerate, at least 1 hour or overnight. (If refrigerating overnight, roll in more breadcrumbs before air frying.)
Set air fryer temperature to 350F. Working in batches, air fry the rice balls for about 4 minutes. Open the fryer drawer, turn rice balls, air fry for an additional 4 minutes or so, until golden brown or the length of “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds. Garnish with fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese.
* Philips TurboStar Technology Airfryer, Digital Interface, 1.8lb/2.75qt (HD9641/96)