Inspired by one of my favorite Italian snacks, crunchy fried balls of risotto, or arancini, I set out to make a paleo version of this delicious mouthful (and possibly vegan, if you swap out the egg for a flax egg). If you’ve never had an arancini, the rice is tender, the cheese adds a punch of richness, and the crust is perfectly golden brown and crisp – it’s the perfect bite. So how to recreate that without the rice, the cheese, and the breadcrumb crust while still having it taste delicious is the question here. I used broccoli rice as the base, and then loaded it with lots of amazing, savory flavors. The crust is made with an almond flour vegan parm mixture, and their satueed in olive oil until just crisp. The result is delicious, and just as addicting as their Italian inspiration. Enjoy!
Yields for 3 Arancinis
3 cups riced broccoli
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided plus more for sautéing
1 egg white (or one flax egg)
1/2 cup mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup vegan parmesan coating (recipe below)
1/3 cup almond flour
1/4 teaspoon each sea salt and black pepper, plus more to taste
Vegan Parmesan Coating
1/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup raw cashews
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté mushrooms in 1 tablespoon olive oil for 5 minutes, then stir in the broccoli and garlic and continue cooking with a lid on, for about 5 more minutes. Set aside. Add the basil, oregano, vegan parmesan cheese, and almond flour, and mix to combine.
Add broccoli rice and egg white to food processor or blender, along with salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Pulse a few more times and then transfer to a mixing bowl. If you mix it too much, it will become dense and pasty – not ideal!
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more almond flour or vegan parmesan cheese if the mixture feels too wet. It should be moldable when squeezed together, but not like a dough.
Transfer mixture to refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes, or freezer for 15 minutes.
Once chilled, gently roll 1 1/2 inch balls in the palms of your hands, and set aside on a plate. There should be about a dozen when done. Coat arancini one at a time in the almond coating, then set aside on a baking sheet.
Heat a large skillet over medium low heat. Once hot, add 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown the arancini at a time (do this in two batches) for about 7 to 10 minutes total, turning to brown on all sides. Turn down heat if they browning too quickly.
Let arancini cool for 5 minutes, then serve with lemon wedges.