I toyed with calling this recipe “Vegan Arancini” but mushroom risotto balls tells it how it is. They are a little more healthy than traditional Arancini: in addition to the absence of cheese, rather than deep frying these delicious morsels, I oven bake them on a high heat instead and have opted to make the risotto with wholegrain rice for a lovely chewy texture.
These are a fab make-ahead party canapé – in fact the rice sticks together much better if you make the risotto in advance and leave to cool. Shape it into patties – whatever size works for your party, starter or main course – and leave in the fridge until you are ready to cook and serve.
Risottos are easy but there are a couple of must-dos for success. First is to ‘dry fry’ the rice before adding the liquid and then add the stock in stages, allowing all the liquid to absorb before adding the next. You might find using a ladle to pour in the stock helps you to stay on track and not add too much at a time.
I like to add a tot of Madeira or vermouth to my mushroom risottos, or failing that, some wine. My ‘splash’ of alcohol is about 50-100 ml. If I have dried mushrooms to hand, I will also recycle the soaking water by mixing it with the stock, but using plain water is absolutely fine too.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
2 tbsp oil
2 large onions
2-3 garlic cloves
50-100g dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
Splash – 50-100 ml – of wine/Madeira/Vermouth (optional)
2 tsps vegetable bouillon powder (I use Marigold)
700 ml liquid: suggest 50 ml vermouth/wine & remainder plain water and/or mushroom soaking water
Half a lemon (optional)
25-30g flour – I use buckwheat
- If you are using dried mushrooms, soak them in hot water for at least 10 minutes or so.
- Dice the onions and fry in a tablespoon of oil. Slice or crush the garlic and add to the onions, frying for about 5 more minutes.
- Fish the rehydrated mushrooms out of their soaking water – reserve this for the stock – and stir into the onions, letting them cook until softened.
- Mix the soaking water with the vegetable bouillon powder, stirring well to disolve and – if necessary – topping up with hot water to reach 700 ml.
- Slice or dice the fresh mushrooms into small, even-sized pieces and throw them in, cooking gently to allow the juices to evaporate.
- Rinse the rice in a sieve and drain off as much water as possible. Tip into the risotto, stirring well to incorporate. Allow the rice to ‘dry fry’ for a good few minutes – if there is a lot of moisture left from the mushrooms, this can take about 5-10 minutes. Basically you want to hold off adding your stock until the rice is almost sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Pour in the alcohol if using or add a bit of stock (a ladle full) – say a fifth in absence of a ladle – and stir to moisten the rice as it starts to bubble away.
- Once the liquid has been absorbed, add a little more stock and continue in this vein, allowing each batch to absorb before adding the next. If you are using wholegrain rice, it should take around 30 minutes to cook – the end result should be soft but with a slight bite.
- Check for seasoning; I also add a dash of lemon juice.
To finish off, once the rice is cool, stir in the flour and then shape into balls or patties of your chosen size. Place on lightly floured plate and store in the fridge until needed.
When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven on 210 (fan)/230 (conventional) and warm up a tablespoon of oil in a large baking dish for about 5 minutes. Cook the balls for 10 minutes on each side until firm. They are delicious served hot or cold.