My mother arranged lots of finger food, sausage rolls, pies etc for the wake. So I wanted some sort of g/f vegan finger food. All I could think of was rice paper rolls, but wanted something warm since it has been freezing in Melbourne lately. Emily on twitter suggested rice balls which I thought was a great idea but maybe a bit too unusual for my family, this eventually lead me to the idea of making risotto balls which are also called arancini. Thanks Emily!
I saw the Melinda's packaged risotto cakes in store and decided to make them and my own arancini and compare the two.
I was skeptical about packaged food but they were surprisingly great. They can be dairy and egg free options, so I used cheddar cheezly and egg replacer. You still need to cook the mixture on the stove before adding it to the oven, but it was much quicker and easier than making my own. I think the flavour of the cheezly gets lost, vegan cheese is too subtle. However, Toby and I really enjoyed them, particularly the little bits of vegetables.
And then we ended up making our own. I followed Pip's recipe except I replaced the mushrooms with sun dried tomatoes, used corn flake crumbs and I baked them. I took them to the wake because I was sure that they would taste even better, but they were a tad bland. Yes surprisingly the packaged ones were actually better. I think getting rid of the mushrooms was a mistake. Also, I think I didn't put enough stock powder or something. I meant to serve them with some marinara sauce which I forgot to take. So we ended up serving them with sweet chilli sauce.
Sun Dried Tomato Risotto Balls from Fairest Feed
(Makes about 25)
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 clove garlic, crushed
400g mushrooms, finely chopped (I used sun dried tomatoes)
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
4 - 6 cups water or stock
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tbs fresh thyme
1 cup rice flour or breadcrumbs (I used corn crispy crumbs-Organ brand)
oil for shallow frying
Preheat oven to 180°C
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook gently until soft (about 10 minutes). Add the bay leaf and mushrooms (or sundried tomatoes) and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring until the mushrooms are soft. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains in oil. Add a cup of the liquid and stir until it has been absorbed. Continue adding the liquid, cup by cup until it has all been absorbed and the rice is tender. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the thyme, nooch (if using) and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.
When the risotto is cool enough to handle, use your hands to form golf ball sized balls. Roll them in the flour or breadcrumbs and bake til they are crispy, roughly 20 minutes.
I didn't take a picture though since I was up at 11pm the night before making it and it seemed wrong to take food pictures at a wake.