Vegetarian Meatballs13

Vegetarian Meatballs Recipe (aka Arancini recipe)

Vegetarian meatballs recipe – great for the holidays!

Off the hip recipes are those that I make up with no pre-planning. Some times there is a plan, sometimes they are a delicious culinary accident worth sharing.

These little tasty bites are like a round risotto fritter, and they are my take on Italian classic “arancini” .  Chef Andre, another chef at the now closed In Good Taste Cooking School, introduced them to me back in October 2012. We were cooking for a huge crowd and he put a huge pan of prepped and cooled risotto in front of me, and showed me how to make them. One bite, and I was hooked!

The taste stayed with me for a few days, until I decided to recreate them. I had not made them nor did I think to snag the recipe, so it was up to my cheffy senses to make it happen. I knew saffron was involved but didn’t want to blow perfectly good saffron on test run, so I turned to turmeric. It was so good that even after trying the recipe with saffron, the turmeric won out.

When friends of ours asked for some help feeding vegetarians at Thanksgiving, these were the first thing that came to mind.  Vegetarians and Omnivores alike will dig on these! You can even make them gluten free.  Make sure you take a look at the gallery for a closer look at this yummy treat!

Vegetarian ‘Meat’ Balls

Yield: 6-8 dozen 1-2″ balls

Ingredients Mise en Plas
  • 1 ½ c Arborio Rice
  • ½ Red Onion (or two shallots), finely chopped
  • 5 – 6 c Vegetable Stock
  • 1 Tbsp Turmeric
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 2 c Breadcrumbs (sub potato flake for gluten free)
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp White Pepper
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced or crushed
  • 3 Eggs
  • ½ c Asiago and/or Smoked Gouda or Cheddar, finely grated
  • Coconut oil for frying (optional – but it makes them awesome!)
  • Two Medium Saucepans
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Ladle
  • Zester
  • Shallow Dish for Breadcrumbs
  • Sheet Pan
  • Paper Towel Lined Sheetpan
  • Deep or Pan Fry Setup
  • Splatter Screen
  • Cheese Grater
  1. Set up two pots. In one pot, heat the stock to a boil and then reduce until it is barely simmering.
  2. To the other pot, add the rice, turmeric, orange zest, salt, white pepper, and garlic. Saute for about a minute, or until the garlic becomes aromatic.
  3. Add about 1 cup of stock. Stir, stir, stir to activate the natural starches in the rice for a creamy texture. (Seriously – stir your risotto almost constantly. For a demo of how to do it, watch Episode #52 where I make romano risotto)
  4. Add the stock ½ to 1 cup at a time when the rice has nearly soaked it all up. Stir almost constantly as the rice cooks.
  5. Add the onion with the last addition of stock. Taste the rice to ensure it is a bit on the salty side. If not, add a little more salt.
  6. Remove from the heat, cool, and fold in the eggs and cheese. For the best results, chill the risotto until it is cool, but not cold. This will make it easier to shape.
  7. Roll into 1-2″ balls, then roll the balls in the breadcrumbs or potato flake. Use a shallow dish and start with a thin layer of crumbs. Add more as needed. ( If you want to make them in a more “authentico” way, don’t fold in the cheese and don’t use potato flakes. Instead, stuff a generous pinch of cheese into the center of the ball and use only breadcrumbs.)
  8. Alternate method for hot risotto. If you can’t wait to make them, let the risotto cool until you can hold it without getting burnt. Then, make a small well in the breadcrumbs and pour a heaping Tablespoon into the well. Toss crumbs over it and “gather” it together. Squeeze in your hand to condense and then roll again.
  9. Fry off in good frying oil. Fill a small frying pan about 1/4 full of oil. Add as many balls as will fit comfortably – reference the gallery for a visual on what this means. Expeller processed coconut oil is the best and makes for a “no-guilt” appetizer (it’s really hard to get fat on rice and coconut oil), however peanut oil or grapeseed oil are also suitable. Use the splatter screen as they can get a little explosive.
  10. Set the finished balls on paper towels to drain. Serve when cool enough to eat.

If you are feeling sassy, try these tweaks to the recipe:

  • Replace the turmeric with a generous pinch or saffron added to the simmering stock.
  • Try a fontina and ham stuffing (One of Chef Andre’s recommendations. Obviously, they won’t be vegetarian anymore)
  • Stuff with sauteed wild mushrooms like morels or chanterelles
  • Trade the vegetable stock for a half and half blend of whole milk and chicken stock (not vegetarian and devilishly rich)



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