Sicilian Rice Balls (Arancini)
Arancini are normally filled with meat, but here you will find a vegetarian version, that is easy to make and perfect to serve as an appetizer or as a meze. Even if Italy does not have a meze tradition, it doesn't mean we cannot give its dishes a place on our table!
2 cups Italian Arborio or American Carolina rice
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup grated caciocavallo or Romano cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed
1 pound ricotta
1 cup flour
2 cups dried bread crumbs
3 cups canola or vegetable oil for deep-frying
1. Boil the rice until tender and drain. When the rice is still hot, but cool enough to handle, add the sauce, cheese, peas and eggs, mix well and let cool.
2. Take a handful of rice, make a depression in the middle, and fill with 1 teaspoon of ricotta. Cover the ricotta with more rice, and shape into a ball. As you shape the arancini, place them on a tray.
3. When you have finished making all the arancini, make a paste out of the flour plus 1 cup water, and using your hands coat each one with the flour paste. When all have been coated, roll each one in bread crumbs. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
4. When ready to serve the arancini, deep-fry them in the oil until golden, drain on paper towels, and serve hot or at room temperature.