I know what you’re thinking… not another pumpkin recipe. I’m not going to sit and pretend that I’ve made something super original. I clearly haven’t. But do you know what? I don’t care! I bloody love a pumpkin, and if you can’t stuff your face with endless amounts of squash in October, when can you really?
If truth be told, I don’t need an excuse. Squash and pumpkin are definitely up there with some of my favourite vegetables, so I have absolutely no problem including them in dishes all year round. But at this time of year, it just feels a bit more festive and exciting to eat them, doesn’t it? And with shop windows full of Halloween displays, and food markets across London piled high with these orange balls of joy, it’s pretty difficult escape the pumpkin madness.
Now my reason behind creating arancini for my festive recipe, rather than just a standard squash risotto, was because I wanted to make something that resembled mini pumpkins. Looking at the finished product, I think it’s fair to say that these risotto balls look nothing like baby pumpkins, but that’s okay because they taste really great. Hey, you win some, you lose some. Happy Halloween ya’ll!
For the risotto:
300g risotto rice (I use arborio rice)
400g pumpkin, cut into wedges (you can leave the skin on)
Small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
50g unsalted butter
1.5 litres of good quality vegetable stock
Small bottle of white wine
Half tsp chilli flakes
75g freshly grated parmesan
Handful of freshly chopped sage
Salt & fresh black pepper
For the arancini:
150g mozzarella, drained and diced
200g plain flour
1 large egg
20 sage leaves
- Preheat your oven to gas mark 6/200C or 180C for fan assisted ovens.
- Throw the pumpkin wedges into a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss and put into the centre of your preheated oven and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until soft and golden in colour. Once cooled, scoop the pumpkin from its skins, mash in a bowl and set to one side.
- Pour 1.5 litres of good quality vegetable stock into a large pan and bring to a boil. Turn down to a light simmer and leave bubbling away while you begin to cook your risotto.
- In a separate large pan heat half of your unsalted butter over a medium to high heat. Once melted add the chopped onions and cook until soft making sure not to brown. Add the garlic for a further couple of minutes and then pour in the uncooked risotto rice and chopped sage. Fry for a few minutes stirring every so often and then pour in the white wine.
- Once the wine has almost evaporated add in a ladle of your simmering veg stock and stir well. Once the rice absorbs the stock, add another ladle. Continue this process until the rice is almost cooked through. At this point add in your mashed pumpkin, chilli flakes, grated parmesan and the remaining butter and mix well. Continue to add the stock until the rice is cooked.
- Season with salt and fresh black pepper and mix well. Pour the risotto into a tray, spread out and leave to cool completely, preferably in the fridge.
- Once cooled, stir the mozzarella through the rice and then get ready to start rolling!
- Roll a tablespoon of the risotto mixture between wet palms to form a ball and then set to one side. Repeat this process until all the rice is used up.
- Beat together the egg, flour and water to make a thick batter and season. Put the breadcrumbs on to a separate plate.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a deep, heavy-based saucepan (no more than a third full) to around 170C, or until a breadcrumb sizzles when dropped in. As the oil is heating dip each risotto ball into the batter and then coat in a decent layer of breadcrumbs.
- Cook in batches for around 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown, making sure the oil reaches back up to 170C between batches. Use kitchen towel to drain once removed from the oil.
- Once all the risotto balls are cooked gently lower the sage leaves into the hot oil and fry until crispy. Remove, set on kitchen towel, sprinkle with a little salt and then serve on top of your arancini.