Monday, September 2, 2013

Mofo 2013 - Day 2 - A is for Artichoke Arancini with Arugula Salad and San Marzano Tomato Sauce

The beginning of the alphabet is a joyous beginning to this year's MoFo. While there were several very worthy foods starting with A (asparagus, avocado, apples, apricots, almonds, etc.), I decided to utilize the noble artichoke and nutty arugula.

The artichoke is believed to be a native Mediterranean plant from the thistle family. There are over 140 varieties of artichoke. If you have been a follower of the blog for a while, you may remember our epic artichoke plant that yielded more than 50 of these beautiful globes. For this recipe, I used canned artichoke hearts. you could easily sub fresh or frozen. Oh man, now I want fresh artichoke hearts!

Arugula lends a nutty backdrop for the rich Arancini. Arancini is a pretty name for friend rice balls. These Sicilian balls of glory are crispy and a touch sinful. The San Marzano Tomato Sauce is the perfect sauce to dip your balls in! Enjoy!

Artichoke Arancini with San Marzano Tomato Sauce

Makes 16 balls

1 recipe Artichoke Risotto
1/2 package Daiya Havarti Wedge Cheese, cut into small cubes (a little smaller than 1/2 inch), keep very cold until ready to use
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 recipe San Marzano Tomato Sauce (recipe below)

10 large basil leaves, chiffonade for garnish

Oil for frying ( I prefer to use grapeseed oil)

Artichoke Risotto

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons minced yellow onion
1/3 cup canned artichoke hearts, drained, chopped small (measured after chopping)
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine, chilled
1 3/4 cups cold vegetable stock
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried

In medium sauce pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced onion and saute for about 3 minutes until slightly softened. Add artichoke and saute for another minute. Add rice and saute, stirring to coat, about 2-3 minutes. Turn heat to low and add wine. Simmer, stirring constantly until wine is absorbed. Repeat with cold vegetable stock (1/2 cup at a time). Risotto should be cooked through, but not mushy. If all liquid has been added and risotto is still not done, add 1/4 cup cold vegetable stock at a time until proper doneness is attained. Remove from heat and stir in nutritional yeast and parsley. This risotto is wonderful as a side dish on its own. If you want to have it that way, stop here and serve immediately. For the balls, cool completely in refrigerator. This step is very important. If risotto is not completely cooled it will be sticky and difficult to work with. Can be made a day ahead of time.

While risotto is cooling, start preparing tomato sauce (see recipe below).

Using a xx oz. scoop, scoop out approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons risotto. with index finger, make indentation large enough to insert cube of cheese. Insert cheese and cover up hole completely. Set ball on plate. Repeat for next 15 balls. Set aside.

Add oil to 10 inch iron skillet until about 1 inch deep. Heat oil to 350 degrees.

In bowl combine bread crumbs. Roll each ball in breadcrumbs to coat and place back on plate. Cooking in batches of 4, carefully slide arancini into oil. The balls can be delicate, so use caution when putting them in the oil. Fry for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully turn to other side. I find using two forks to gently turn them works really well. Fry for another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on paper towel lined plate. Repeat for remaining balls.

Serve immediately drizzled with warm San Marzano Tomato Sauce. Garnish with fresh basil chiffonade. Serve with Arugula Salad on the side.

San Marzano Tomato Sauce

This is a very simple sauce. The San Marzano tomatoes are key to making the flavor, oh so special. Sauce can be used on pasta as well.

Makes about 3 cups

1/3 cup minced sweet onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minted
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper
28 oz can pealed whole San Marzano Tomatoes with juice

Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 3-5 minutes, stirring occassionally. Add garlic and saute until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add salt, pepper oregano and crushed red pepper. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes. Turn heat to low. Break apart tomatoes with wooden spoon. Let simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. I let it keep cooking until risotto is cold, which is sometimes longer. Can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days.

Arugula Salad

6 cups baby arugula
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons raspberry balsamic or 2 tablespoons balsamic with 1 teaspoon agave nectar

Place arugula and cranberries in large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Toss. Salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Oooh I saw arancini in a catalog once and I've wanted them ever since - this looks amazing!

    (p.s. you might want to turn captcha off!)

  2. Thanks Sarah! I did turn it off. I forgot. Thanks so much for the reminder!!

  3. Oooh these look gorgeous! Perfectly crispy on the outside and gooey in the middle. I'll have to try making them at the weekend :)

    1. Did you have a chance to try them? How did they come out?

  4. I've loved those little golden balls of glory since I was a kid and my Sicilian Nana showed me how to make her secret recipe...just the mention of "arancini" makes me go weak in the knees with rice ball delight! :)

  5. I obviously loved this mostly because you talked about dipping balls. But seriously, it looks delicious!!

    1. Who doesn't love a little ball dipping action haha

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