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Broccoli Rabe Arancini with Marinara Sauce

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Arancini are Sicilian rice balls stuffed with cheese, coated with breadcrumbs and then fried. Leftover risotto is the perfect medium for these balls, as it is soft and creamy in texture which allows it to be easily formed into a ball. The addition of broccoli rabe to the risotto perfectly complements the creaminess of the Parmesan cheese. Served warm, and then dipped into the marinara sauce, your first bite of the crispy panko exterior crust, soft chewy center, and melty mozzarella cheese will leave you feeling utter happiness.

Recipe by Heather Hands
Heather is the author of Flourishing Foodie, a mostly vegetarian food blog. The blog was nominated for Saveur awards in 2014 and 2015 and named as a “Site We Love” in 2013. She is a registered dietitian who practices what she preaches, cooking fresh ingredients in their most natural form. Her work has been featured on Williams Sonoma, Glamour, and a number of other media outlets.

Serves: 20, 2 cups sauce
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 1 hr
Total: 1.5 hrs

Ingredients

Arancini

  • 3 Cups vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Cup diced onion
  • 1 Cup dry arborio rice
  • ½ Cup dry white wine
  • ½ Lb. broccoli rabe
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • ½ Tsp pepper
  • ½ Cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Vegetable, canola, or a neutral oil for frying
  • 2 oz. mozzarella, chopped into ½ inch pieces
  • ¼ Cup all­-purpose flour
  • ½ Cup water
  • 2 Cups panko crumbs

Marinara Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 7 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Large can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ Cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tsp. salt

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Directions

For the Arancini:

1. Heat the vegetable broth in a medium saucepan on low.

2. In a large Dutch oven, wok, or saute pan, heat the olive oil on medium. Add the diced onion and fry until soft and translucent. Add the dry arborio rice and combine with the onions and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Add the white wine to the risotto, and simmer on medium heat until it has absorbed, stirring occasionally.

4. Once the wine has absorbed, add a ladle of the broth and combine. Simmer until the broth has absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add the next ladle of broth and continue in this manner until you have used all of the broth, or the risotto is tender and creamy.

5. While the risotto is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the broccoli rabe and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the water and immerse the broccoli rabe into and ice water bath for 2 minutes. Drain, and chop into small pieces. Set to the side.

6. Once the risotto has cooked, stir in the broccoli rabe, and season with salt, pepper, and the Parmesan cheese. Let the risotto cool before you make the risotto balls or store in the fridge overnight.

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7. In a medium saucepan, add enough oil to measure 4 inches deep. Heat on medium to 375°F.

8. In a small bowl, whisk the flour and water, to make a slurry.

9. In a food processor, pulse the panko for a few minutes to get a smaller crumb. Place onto a plate.

10. Scoop ¼ cup of the risotto into your hands. Flatten into a disk and place a ½ ­inch piece of mozzarella in the center. Fold the risotto around the mozzarella and roll into a ball. Dip the ball into the flour slurry, and then cover with panko crumbs. Place the risotto balls onto a baking sheet.

11. With a slotted spoon, place 5 risotto balls at a time into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain excess oil. Serve warm with marinara sauce. Best if eaten the day of.

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For the Marinara Sauce:

1. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil on low. Add the garlic and cook until it starts to sizzle, approximately 1 minute. Do not let the garlic brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil and salt.

2. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Serve warm.

3. Store leftover marinara covered in the fridge for up to a week.

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