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updated: 3/22/2012 1:20 PM

Leftover risotto rolls into tempting arancini

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  • The microwave is a quick and easy way to make risotto and will get you that much closer to these delicious rice balls.

    The microwave is a quick and easy way to make risotto and will get you that much closer to these delicious rice balls.
    Alicia Ross/Kitchen Scoop


Italian cooks have been using leftover risotto to make risotto balls (arancini) for ages. But this tempting treat has just entered my culinary life, and oh my stars! I wonder where it has been for all these years!

If you've ever enjoyed arancini, you know what I'm talking about -- lightly breaded, fried little balls of creamy risotto with a savory surprise in the center. After enjoying them as an appetizer at a fine Italian restaurant, I spent the next afternoon reading blog posts and online magazine articles about the dish.

The articles focused more on stove-cooking the risotto than the delicious appetizer itself. Had none of these cooks heard how easy it is to make risotto in the microwave? (Check out for several microwave risotto recipes.) And has anyone made the risotto just for the arancini? I couldn't wait until I had risotto leftovers, so I set into the test kitchen to try my hand at arancini, starting with uncooked arborio rice.

The good news is that microwaving risotto works well to make arancini. The trick to great arancini is waiting until the risotto is completely cooled and using really hot oil. (Hence the leftover aspect of most recipes, so the balls will stick together properly and hold up to the hot oil.) After 30 minutes in the freezer, my previously steaming bowl of rice was the perfect temperature to roll away.

Of course, you can use any type of risotto to make risotto balls, but I urge you to try my Tomato Risotto Diablo. Full of bold tomato flavor with a slow-building burn, it is the perfect counterpoint to the creamy, mild parmesan and rice. Then when you fry it into a tasty little ball with hot melted mozzarella cheese at the center ... Yum. You'll be making risotto just for the arancini, too.

• Alicia Ross has been creating quick, family-friendly recipes for nearly two decades. Write her at Kitchen Scoop, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or More at the Kitchen Scoop website.

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