CAN YOU believe we’re in August already?

It is officially summer, and way over half way through the year, which on the one hand seems to have come around quite quickly, but on the other, what a weird year it has been so far!

Now that it’s getting warmer we’re less likely to reach for heavy pasta dishes and soups, often favouring lighter bites and smaller meals instead.

When summer arrives, if you can’t find yourself strolling along the seafront in Italy, with the ocean in front of you and a slab of focaccia in your hand, then the best you can hope for is a stroll around your local area – made all the better if you happen upon a street food market.

Italians do street food really well. Focaccia, panzerotti – basically any kind of pizza – but one of the real stars of the show is arancini.

Arancini are balls of rice (usually round or conical), coating in breadcrumbs and deep fried – a real staple of Sicilian culture. The delicious balls of rice come in a variety of flavours, but will often involve mozzarella, ragu and peas.

Arancini are thought to be traced back to 10th century Sicily, but, as always, there are many tales regarding their origin. Although they are the perfect light bite for a summer snack, it is said to be in December when arancini are traditionally enjoyed by Sicilian locals.

In Sicilian cities such as Palermo, Siracusa, and Trapani, arancini are a traditional food for the feast of Santa Lucia, which takes place on 13 December, when bread and pasta are not supposed to be eaten, to commemorate the arrival of a grain supply ship on Santa Lucia’s day in 1646, relieving a severe famine. Of course, they’re so popular now, that they’re served and enjoyed all year round.

Arancini are so popular in Italy that they have thoroughly cemented their place in pop culture too. In Italian literature, Inspector Montalbano, the main character of Andrea Camilleri’s detective novels, is a well-known lover of arancini – especially those made by Adelina Cirrinciò, his housekeeper and cook.

Back in the real world, most of us don’t have a housekeeper or a cook, so if we want something, we have to make it for ourselves. Lucky for you, I have a recipe, to show you how to make delicious arancini at home.

Arancini are so versatile. Classic arancini are crispy on the outside, and packed inside with soft rice, sometimes mixed with peas and bound together with mozzarella cheese. There are plenty of variants though.

However you like yours, you can follow my basic recipe below, to learn how to make delicious, classic arancini at home.



15g unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large garlic clove

1 onion, finely chopped

350g risotto rice

150ml dry white wine

1.2l chicken or veg stock

150g grated parmesan

150g ball mozzarella

1 lemon

vegetable oil

150g plain flour

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

150g fine dried breadcrumbs


1. Place the olive oil and the butter in a saucepan and heat until a foam is formed. Finely chop the onion and add to the pan, along with a pinch of salt, and fry over a gentle heat for 15 minutes, until the onion is soft.

2. To chop your garlic, squash it using the flat side of a knife and peel away the skin with your fingers before chopping it horizontally and vertically into very small pieces. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for another minute.

3. Next stir in the rice and cook for another minute before pouring in the wine. Bring the mixture to the boil, until the liquid has reduced by half. Pour in half of the hot stock and allow to simmer, stirring continuously, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. Pour in the rest of the stock, a ladle at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid, still stirring continuously, until the rice is cooked through. This usually takes around 25 minutes.

4. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese and the zest of one lemon before seasoning to taste. Finally, spread the risotto out onto a tray and allow to cool at room temperature.

5. Divide the risotto into 18 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball before flattening with your hands. Divide the mozzarella into 18 equal pieces before placing a piece on top of each portion of rice. Wrap the rice around the mozzarella, to enclose it in the centre, before rolling into a ball again.

6. Place the flour, eggs (lightly beaten), and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls, ready to coat your rice balls. One at a time, dip your rice ball inside the flour, then the egg mixture, then the breadcrumbs, ensuring they are coated well in each. Place to one side and repeat for the other rice balls.

7. Half fill a large, heavy saucepan with vegetable oil and heat over a medium-low heat until it is ready to use – roughly 170 C on a thermometer, or until a piece of bread turns golden brown in 45 seconds. Lower your arancini into the oil in batches, cooking for 8-10 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. Place to one side on some kitchen roll, so that the grease can drain off.

8. Once they have cooled a little serve and enjoy warm.