I was visiting a friend’s house a while ago who randomly told me that you can make arancini balls with leftover risotto. Its something that I had never considered before but it makes perfect sense because risotto is sticky so if you roll it up in a ball it will likely stick together. I decided to make a big batch of my usual vegan pumpkin risotto and experiment. The risotto stuck together very well but they were a bit soft. Traditional arancini balls are deep-fried but I do not have a deep fryer nor do I believe deep drying is the healthiest option so to speed up the process I decided to try them out in an air fryer using no extra oil. They turned out perfect and only needed about 10 minutes in the air fryer. You could of course pop them in the oven instead but I think the process would take around 4o minutes or so in the oven. I don’t actually think I will be making my pumpkin risotto anymore because the arancini balls are so much better! The extra crunch from the bread crumbs just took the risotto to a whole new level. I experimented with putting a little vegan cheese in the middle of some of the balls (not all) and it did add a nice creaminess but I couldn’t get a stretch from it. I think this would depend very much on the cheese that you use. I am very picky with my vegan cheese as most of them are highly processed so I just use nice healthy cashew-based fermented cheese. It doesn’t need the cheese but it is nice if you feel like it. The recipe comes together much quicker if you have precooked brown rice on hand. I batch cook my whole grains and freeze them. I then thaw them out before using or quickly heat them in the microwave. I also like to use organic microwave brown rice at times because it is so much quicker, I just make sure to take the rice out of the plastic packaging before microwaving so I don’t heat my food in plastic (heated plastic may leach chemicals into food which have been shown to interfere with hormone function)
I have actually had a bit of a love-hate relationship with pumpkin. Pumpkin always tastes so different to me. If it’s a good pumpkin I can’t get enough of it but some pumpkins have a weird taste and texture and they really put me off my food. But I do like to add them in because pumpkins are a good source of beta carotene which can help support progesterone production and also because they are one of the highest fibre vegetables. Fibre is essential in gut health but also to help move the extra estrogen the body no longer needs out of the body. That’s why I tend to reach for things like pumpkin in the luteal phase (in between ovulation and menstruation) because its a perfect hormone balancing food and it’s also warm and comforting.
The recipe is vegan and dairy-free if you want to keep it gluten-free sub-gluten-free bread crumbs.
|Vegan Pumpkin Arancini Balls|| |
- 2 cups precooked brown rice
- Half butternut or jap pumpkin - cut into small cubes and roasted
- 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion - finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves - crushed
- salt and pepper to taste
- handful of parsley
- VEGAN CREAM:
- ⅓ cup cashews
- 1 cup of soy milk
- juice half a lemon
- 1 tsp tahini
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 TBSP nutritional yeast
- ½ cup breadcrumbs (for rolling- use GF if necessary)
- Vegan cheese of choice for the centre- optional
- STEP 1: Begin by peeling your pumpkin and cutting into cubes.
- Season your pumpkin with a little salt and pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes at about 200 C or until slightly browned around the edges.
- For the cream: blend all ingredients together in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy and set aside.
- Fry your chopped onion in a large pot or pan in a little olive oil until it becomes lightly browned. Add your crushed garlic and cook for a few more seconds until garlic becomes fragrant.
- Add your pre-cooked rice and roasted pumpkin to the pan and mix well until everything is evenly combined. The pumpkin gets a little crushed during this process and makes the risotto start looking orange in colour, but you should still have a few chunky bits of pumpkin in there.
- Season with salt and pepper
- Start pouring in your cream a little at a time and mix well, the rice will absorb the cream. Keep adding until you get it as creamy as you like
- Throw in a handful of chopped parsley and mix again
- Allow to cool slightly then form into balls with your hands. Cut a small amount of vegan cheese ( if using) off and place in the centre of the arancini ball then roll the rest of the risotto around the cheese.
- Roll the arancini balls into bread crumbs.
- Place in the air fryer for 10 - 12 minutes or bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 200 C
- Serve with extra parsley