by Nancy Caivano
Spinach and Dried Tomato Arancini
with Creamy Basil Pesto
6 tbsp olive oil, divided
5 cloves garlic, chopped (or 1 tbsp jar chopped garlic)
1 large bunch fresh spinach, stems removed,
leaves washed very well and julienne
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, washed well and thinly sliced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups simmering chicken stock
1/2 cup dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water
to cover for 30 minutes, then julienne
3 tbsp butter
1 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmesan)
1/2 cup soft, fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet)
For Pesto Sauce:
2 cups fresh basil leaves
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1 egg yolk, beaten
8 oz mozzarella cheese, diced
3 eggs, beaten
Fine, dry breadcrumbs
Oil for frying
First, make risotto:
Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until garlic is just beginning to brown. Add spinach and cook until spinach is wilted and tender. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat remaining 3 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, and leek. Cook until onion is translucent. Add rice, stirring constantly, and cook 5 minutes more, making sure rice does not brown. Add wine mixture, stirring constantly, and let totally evaporate. When wine is evaporated, begin adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, letting each addition evaporate before adding the next addition.
After fourth addition of stock is added, begin tasting rice. Rice should be al dente when done. You need to keep tasting rice, because, depending on rice, you may or may not have to use all of the stock. When fourth addition of stock is absorbed, add dried tomatoes.
After last addition of stock is absorbed, remove from heat, and stir in butter, Romano, and goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper and turn out onto a board or plastic sheet pan to cool.
Meanwhile, make pesto sauce:
In a food processor or blender, combine basil, garlic, ricotta, Parmesan, & pine nuts. Process to blend. with processor running, add oil in a thin stream until smooth and creamy. Taste, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
When the rice is cold, thoroughly mix in the egg yolk. Form into balls, about the size of an egg. Push a hole into the center of each, and put in a cube of mozzarella and close the rice mixture over it. Roll each ball in beaten egg and coat with the breadcrumbs.
Heat the oil in a deep fryer (or a deep saucepan) until just below smoking. Fry the Arancini until golden brown. Drain well on paper towels. Serve hot with pesto sauce.
You can make these pretty much any size you want. You might want to make them smaller, more of a "one bite" size. It's a little more work this way and you have to make the mozzarella cubes a bit smaller, but they seem to go over very well.
Progressive Meal Courses
- Spinach and Dried Tomato Arancini with Creamy Basil Pesto
- Seared Prosciutto and Mushroom Ravioli with Spicy Tomato Dipping Sauce
- Risotto with Chicken, Roasted Fennel and Boursin
- Risotto with Grilled Flank Steak and Mixed Mushrooms
- Shrimp and Toasted Corn Ravioli with Corn and Black Peppercorn Cream
- Baked Orzo with Olives and Mozzarella
- Risotto with Butternut Squash and Pancetta
- Risotto with Roasted Vegetables
- Asparagus, Fennel, Red Onion and Orange Salad
- Spinach and Apple Salad with Butter Toasted Almonds
- Endive, Roasted Pear and Stilton Salad
This page created January 2001