If you’ve never had arancini before, then you must try this recipe! Arancini are Italian rice balls and they’re one of those dishes that I have to order when I see them on a menu. These delectable bites are traditionally made with risotto, an Italian rice dish that has a rich, velvety taste and texture, but is a little time-consuming to prepare. The risotto is formed into a ball and can be stuffed with various treats like meat, cheese, raisins or pine nuts. Then the balls are coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. The end result is delicious mouthful that’s crispy on the outside with an ooey, gooey, cheesy center.
No matter what type of rice you’re using, this grain packs a serious nutritional punch. U.S.-grown rice provides more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals including folic acid, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, selenium, fiber, iron and zinc.
It’s also budget-friendly and can form the foundation of many healthy meals as it pairs well with so many other healthy foods like seafood, lean protein, vegetables and even fruit.
When you’re at the grocery store, look for the “Grown in the USA Rice” logo on packages of 100% domestically grown rice. In addition to all of the nutritional benefits, when you eat U.S.-grown rice, you’re also helping the environment by reducing food miles.
Baked Spinach and Cheese Rice Balls (Arancini)
- 1 ½ tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided use
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup U.S.-grown short grain brown rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 ounces frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry, about ½ cup
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 2 ounces mozzarella cheese, diced into ½ inch pieces
- Marinara sauce for serving (optional)
- Heat 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook a few minutes until softened. Add the rice and stir until coated with the oil. Turn the heat up to high and add the wine. Cook until wine is almost completely reduced. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until rice is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Stir in the spinach and Parmesan cheese. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the rice to a bowl and refrigerate a few hours or overnight. When the rice is cool, stir in the egg.
- Mix the breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, 2 teaspoons olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in a bowl.
- Form the rice mixture into about 12 medium sized balls, enclosing a cube of mozzarella in the center of each one. Roll each ball in the breadcrumbs, coating the entire surface.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the rice balls on a baking sheet sprayed with olive oil. Bake in the oven 15-20 minutes until crispy on the outside. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Serve with marinara sauce on the side for dipping, if desired.