Some of my favorite dishes are those that were inspired by leftovers. This may be in part to the satisfaction that comes with being able to inventively transform one dish into another thus saving time and eliminating waste, both virtuous by-products of this transformation. But perhaps another reason is that this process is sort of like alchemy – turning the unfinished remains from one night into the star of the following night's meal.
Well, after the delicious risotto that Kareem and I enjoyed I already had in mind what I would do with the leftovers. I'd seen Giada De Laurentiis do it once on her show and I had the luxury of enjoying them in Italy too: arancini. These are crispy golden orbs that are filled with the creamy risotto of your choice (in this case mushroom) and nestled in the center a gooey surprise of fresh mozzarella. The Italian name for these, 'arancini' means little oranges – something that these treats loosely resemble in appearance. These are incredibly easy to prepare and they make for a delicious snack or appetizer.
- Leftover risotto (you can make as many or as few as your leftovers will allow)
- 1 egg (This was enough for 5 balls that fit into the palm of my hand – about the size of a small clementine)
- 1 Tablespoon of water
- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (I used plain panko bread crumbs – panko are the Japanese-style crumbs and they are available at most grocery stores now)
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, cubed into small 1cm sized pieces
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
1) Take some of the risotto and form a small ball in the palm of your hand – roughly the size of a clementine. Insert a piece of the fresh mozzarella into the center of the ball and roll the ball so that it's uniform in shape and the mozzarella is hidden in the center. Make as many of these balls as your leftovers allow.
2) Crack the egg in a dish and whisk well – add a tablespoon of water. Prepare another dish with the bread crumbs. Now taking each ball one at a time dip them into the egg mixture – allow the excess to drip off and then roll into the bread crumb mixture so they are evenly coated.
3) Heat a sautee pan over medium to high heat and add the olive oil. When the pan is hot add the balls and rotate them once each side turns golden brown. Once they are done let them rest for a few minutes on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.