On the menu today for National vegetarian Week is an authentic Italian recipe for a comforting classic...

Caroline says: “I had an Italian friend whose ‘Nonna’ taught me how to make these. They are amazing comfort food!”

Ingredients

4 tbsp olive oil

1/2 medium onions, chopped
500 g arborio risotto rice
500 ml vegetable stock
black pepper
100 g frozen peas, defrosted
150 g Old Winchester cheese*, grated
3 eggs, separated, whites beaten
200 g mozzarella, cubed
200 g breadcrumbs

For the arrabiata sauce:

3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 medium red chillies, sliced
200 g fresh Italian plum tomatoes
pinch of salt
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Method

First make the arancini. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan and gently fry the onion until it softens. Add the Arborio rice and fry it, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add a ladleful of the vegetable stock, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and cook, stirring, until the stock is absorbed. Repeat the process until the stock has been used and the rice is cooked through, adding water if necessary to complete the cooking process.

Add the peas, cheese and the 3 egg yolks, mixing thoroughly. Spread the rice mixture in a tray and set aside to cool. Once cooled, take 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture in your hand and press together. Place the mozzarella in the centre of the rice and mould the rice around this filling, making a rice ball.

Dip the rice ball into the egg white, coating throughly, then coat in breadcrumbs. Repeat the process until all the rice and mozzarella has been used up. Place the rice balls on a tray and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the arrabiata sauce. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic and chilli and fry briefly, stirring, until fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook, stirring now and then, for 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and set aside. Just before serving, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

Heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep pan, wok or deep fat-fryer, making sure that the oil is deep enough to completely cover the rice-balls. Just before frying the rice balls (arancini), coat them again with breadcrumbs. Deep-fry the arancini in batches for 1 minute, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve each freshly-fried arancini with 2-3 tablespoons of arrabbiata sauce drizzled over it.

* Click here for alternatives to non-vegetarian cheese