Arancini balls originate in Italy. Essentially, they are rice balls, usually made from risotto, which are stuffed (often with cheese), coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried. As they are so tasty and a great vegetarian option, we decided to make our own plant-based healthy arancini balls recipe – without the cheese, egg or deep-frying!
To achieve a crunchy coating on the outside of the balls, traditionally breadcrumbs are used and this, when deep-fried becomes firm. So, in our recipe we replace the breadcrumbs with a mixture made from oats, flaxseed and sunflower seed. By blending these items together in a hand blender, we can coat the rice balls (using rice milk to make the rice a little sticky), and grill or oven bake, so the outside becomes golden and crunchy, whilst the inside stays soft. The addition of ground flaxseed boosts the nutritional content of these balls, bringing added omega-3 fatty acids, supporting your heart health.
We love using broccoli and mushrooms in this recipe, but you could swap the vegetables, mixing in red pepper, courgette, squash or anything you particularly enjoy eating.
Cooking tip: If you are making risotto, or cooking rice, make a larger portion and save to use the next day in this recipe – this saves the first step in the recipe.
Serving suggestion: This is great to enjoy as a starter, or as part of a main meal. If you serve it as a starter, serve with a side of rocket and a lovely fresh salsa made from fresh tomatoes, finely diced red onion, olive oil and a handful of fresh basil or thyme. We sometimes serve it with a lovely fresh orange dip.
Mushroom and broccoli arancini balls recipe
1 cup (100g) uncooked brown rice (2 cups cooked)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 small head of broccoli, roughly chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp dried thyme (or basil)
½ tsp black pepper
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme (or basil)
Rice milk (small amount, or other non-dairy milk)
½ cup oats
4 tbsp sunflower seeds
4 tbsp flax seed
Cook the brown rice until soft. Drain completely. Leave it to go cold.
Meanwhile, cook the onion and garlic in a pan with the lemon juice (and water) until they become soft, add more water as necessary to keep the onion from sticking. Add the broccoli pieces and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and cook for a further 3 minutes. Allow as much moisture to evaporate as possible. Remove from the heat and allow to go cold.
Place the brown rice into a bowl and mash it with your hands. You want the rice to start to break down. Do NOT use a blender. Add the cooked vegetables, parsley, herbs and spices mixing well. The rice and veggies should start to stick together. (Add corn flour if the mixture is too wet). You should be able to see rice grains in the mixture – do not blend as this will make the taste really bland and flat. Taste the mixture. Add more herbs and spices as needed to achieve the taste you enjoy.
Combine the oats, sunflower seeds and flax seed in a food processor – blend until fine.
Make golf size balls from the mixture. If needed, roll in the rice milk, then roll in the oat topping.
Place on a tray and bake (or grill) for 10 minutes on either side. The outside of the balls should be brown, and the inside hot but soft. Serve hot.
Plant-based food at La Crisalida health retreats
The menus here at La Crisalida health and wellbeing retreats are all plant-based, using lots of wholegrains, vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds and fruit. Our talented chefs like to get creative in the kitchen to provide a wide range of flavours, textures and dishes, inspired by global cuisine, using the best local ingredients.
There is lots more information about plant-based food served at La Crisalida Retreats on our webpage here.
Bring the taste of Italy to your table, enjoy!
About the author
- Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).