Mushroom arancini are one of the most moreish snacks I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating! Named from the Italian word “arancia” meaning “orange” due to their size, shape and colour, they are a street food originating in Sicily but famous all across Italy and Europe.
The base of the dish is a risotto. We’re going to make our incredible risotto loaded with butter, olive oil, fresh mushrooms, garlic, and dried herbs from scratch. There’s going to be an extra-intense infusion of flavour from a dried mushroom broth, and it’ll be slowly cooked to rich, thick, creamy perfection. The cooled risotto mixture will be shaped into balls, stuffed with lovely gooey mozzarella, and rolled in breadcrumbs before being gently fried until golden brown and super crispy inside.
One bite into an arancini and you’ll never turn back – you’ll be making them for every dinner-party and summer lunch! The thin layer of crispy breadcrumbs are just enough to give that gorgeous addictive crunch and then inside is lovely earthy, nutty mushrooms between soft creamy melt-in-the-mouth arborio rice. When you hit the mozzarella in the middle and get a taste of stringy, buttery, creamy cheese, the flavour sensation is complete!
Food is one of the most powerful memories we have. Good food is one of the things we’re likely to remember forever.
Italian cookery is a very close second favourite to Indian food for me. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a ginormous compliment – I cook Indian food everyday, but Italian food still has an important place in my heart! My love affair with Italian cuisine started when I left England for the first time and explored the narrow streets of Florence, Pisa and Venice.
We were staying in a little terracotta coloured house on the small, cobbled streets of old Florence and every morning we would wake early and set out walking for our day of sightseeing. Our route would almost inevitably take us past a little “friggitoria” – a shop selling the most delicious fried foods I’ve ever come across. Everyday we would pick up a little snack of the most delicious cecina (Fried chickpea flour breads) and something else whose name and recipe alludes me to this day. I haven’t been able to get them out of mind almost ten years later! I’ve been back to Italy countless times since – I love everything about the country and have so many precious memories. If you’ve been to Italy, do tell me your favourite food which you ate in my comments below!
Next on my list of places to visit is definitely Sicily to sample (by that I mean eat thousands of) some authentic Sicilian mushroom arancini. For now though, the best thing is definitely these cheesy, creamy, crispy-on-the-outside homemade arancini.
How can I make Mushroom Arancini Vegan and Gluten Free?
Mushroom Arancini are naturally vegetarian and nut-free. However, it’s really easy to adapt this recipe to be both vegan and gluten free.
To make this recipe Vegan, simply skip the mozzarella stuffing or replace it with a good melting vegan cheese. To coat the arancini, first dip in flour then into a non-dairy milk, and then the breadcrumbs. Furthermore, if you’re craving a more classically cheesy flavour mix some nutritional yeast into the breadcrumb mixture.
To make this recipe Gluten Free, all you need to do is use gluten-free breadcrumbs. You can buy pre-made gluten free breadcrumbs or simply take a slice or two of bread to a blender and make your own. Arborio rice and cornflour are both naturally gluten free so there’s no more work to do!
What are Dried Porcini Mushrooms?
In this recipe I use dried porcini mushrooms soaked in warm water to flavour the risotto. Wild porcini mushrooms have a delightful nutty, smokey flavour that you’ll be hard pressed to find in other more common mushroom varieties. Because of their exquisite flavour the fresh mushrooms are a prized ingredient and priced highly as a result. The dried version is less expensive and means you’ll have access to an even more tasty version available year round.
They are a great investment if you enjoy cooking European dishes – particularly Italian and French cuisine – as only a small quantity is required for intense flavour and therefore they last a considerable amount of time. Try this small pack of gourmet mushrooms from Amazon https://amzn.to/3200c9U to flavour any of your dishes! Please note that as an Amazon affiliate I make a small commission on every sale made through clicking this link, at no extra cost to the buyer.
For this dish we will soak them in warm water to rehydrate the mushroom and then add the chopped mushroom to the dish as well as the ‘broth’ which has lots of delicious flavouring. It’s not essential to a risotto, but nonetheless I highly recommend trying it as it will give us the deep umami and intense mushroom flavour we are looking for. I don’t use alcohol in my recipes, so this is a great alternative to add more flavour.
This recipe is …
- Packed full of intense mushroom flavour
- Incredibly addictive – you’ll be left wanting more!
- Amazingly crispy, but not greasy!
- Great as a make-ahead appetiser
Can you make Mushroom Arancini in advance, and can you freeze them?
Yes you can! If you want to make the work-load a little easier or you’re planning for a big party and want to do some prep-work in advance, you can make the risotto a day or two before (or even a week in advance) and keep it covered in the fridge, ready to use. This can even make the arancini taste better as the flavours have some time to infuse. Then when you’re ready to make the arancini, simply shape, bread and fry as usual.
You can also prepare the arancini and then freeze them. This works well whether you decide to freeze them pre-frying or after frying. In the case that you’ve frozen them pre-frying, just fry straight from the freezer. In the event that you froze them after frying, simply re-heat in an oven until the arancini are completely warmed through.
If you’re interested in more starter recipes, then do check out my Vegan Seekh Kebabs or Bread Samosas stuffed with a mouthwatering spicy potato and pea mixture. If you’re in the mood for Mediterranean recipes, my Spanish Vegan Fideua recipe might be up your alley too! Okay, onto the recipe …
Mushroom & Mozzarella Arancini - Delicious Risotto Balls
- 3 Dried Porcini Mushrooms
- 500ml Warm Water, to soak dried mushrooms
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 70g White Onion, finely chopped (1/2 Large Onion)
- 4 Large Cloves Garlic, finely minced
- 140g Mushrooms
- 160g Arborio Rice
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Dried Sage, optional
- 300ml Water, to cook Risotto
For the Breading & Stuffing
- 40g Mozzarella, cut into 4 to stuff
- 20g Cornflour Flour
- 50g Breadcrumbs
- 1 Egg, whisked
- Sunflower Oil or oil of choice, for deep frying
- Fresh Parsley, to garnish
- Begin by soaking the dried porcini mushrooms. Read here about why I do this. Add the dried mushrooms to a small bowl and pour the warm water of them. Cover and let them soak for around 20-30 minutes. Use this time to prep the ingredients. After the soaking time is up, finely chop the re-hydrated mushrooms and strain the liquid through a mesh-strainer (there may be grittiness). Set above aside until needed.
- Start cooking the risotto. Add the butter and olive oil to a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted add minced garlic to the pan and saute for 20 seconds before adding the onion. Gently sauté for around 3-5 minutes, or until the onion has softened, the aroma is heavenly, and the mixture is just starting to caramelise.
- Stir the fresh and dried mushrooms into the mixture and cook for another 5 minutes (or slightly longer), until the mushrooms have softened and are just releasing their juices.
- At this stage at the arborio rice and mix well. Cook for 1-5 minutes, or until just toasted. Add the salt and dried sage, mix well.
- Now begin adding liquid to the risotto. First add all the strained broth from the dried mushrooms. Stir constantly and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed. Now add the remaining 300ml liquid in 50ml increments. Each time stir and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed. By the time that you have used up all the 300ml of liquid, the risotto should be soft, cooked, and creamy. If it’s undercooked, add another 25ml of water and cook a little longer. The whole process should take around 20 minutes. You can also stir through fresh parsley at this stage if desired.
- Now spread the risotto on a plate, cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- To stuff the arancini, remove the risotto from the fridge and separate it into your deserved portions. I made 4 large arancini. Take a portion and using your hands, shape it into a ball. Make a hole in the ball with your finger and push a piece of mozzarella into the middle, and then close the hole up. Set aside and repeat with all arancini.
- To bread the arancini, prepare 3 bowls. To the first one add flour, then the second add whisked egg, and to the third add the breadcrumbs. First, roll the arancini ball in the flour. Then dip it in the egg and coat from all sides. Finally add it to the breadcrumb bowl and using the other hand, roll it in the breadcrumbs until coated. Set aside and repeat with all arancini.
- To fry the arancini, heat enough oil of choice in a large kadai, wok, or deep frying pan on medium-high heat. Do be careful around hot oil as it can be extremely dangerous and never do this without adult supervision. Once the oil is hot (this varies depending on what you are cooking it, but you can test it by inserting the handle of a wooden spoon – if the oil bubbles, it’s hot enough), gently lower the arancini into the oil. Fry until evenly golden brown, turning midway to ensure even cooking.
- Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot with parsley scattered on top.
How to Serve Mushroom Arancini?
Why not serve these Mushroom Arancini alongside some homemade tomato ketchup? The tangy sharpness of tomato compliments the deep earthy flavours of the mushrooms perfectly. An interesting ‘fusion food’ alternative would be to make a spicy tomato chutney on the side. If you’re looking for a more delicate flavour, why not try a garlic aioli?
Alternatively you can serve them as they are, as part of a large Italian themed meal. Pair with your favourite pasta dish alongside a caprese salad or some polenta chips.
As always, if you have any questions please leave them in the comments down below and I will get back to you as soon as possible. If you give this recipe a try I would love to know what you think. Please take a photo and tag @ohmyvegofficial on Instagram or send it to any of my personal media accounts!