Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Spinach, Cheddar & Garlic Mini Arancini (fried rice fritters)

This is my first leftovers post, and I'm pleased to say it is one solution to what to do with leftover rice. In my case I already had a side dish prepared of jasmine rice tossed with spinach sauteed in garlic. However, since I think this would make a great snack with any old leftover rice you have laying around, I'm going to share my method of cooking the spinach here. I used a lot of garlic and a lovely sharp cheddar, because cheddar and spinach were what I was craving. Back in NYC at a cute little bistro called Elephant and Castle, I used to get an omelette called gold n greens, and that's all it was, wrapped in a luscious French style egg omelette. I wanted to recreate a little of that magic, so I decided to add cheddar to my rice mixture. You can add Gruyére or any soft, meltable cheese. Even Parmesan, if you want to make it more Italian.
What does Italian food have to do with this snack? Quite a bit. In Italy there is a popular fried rice fritter called Arancini. Its shape and filling will vary, from region to region. Their name means little orange, as many are rounded and will come from the deep fryer a golden color reminiscent of the orange. My choice of fillings is rather unusual, but it was what I had on hand and it turned out very nicely. Enjoy! Or as the Italians would say "Mangia! Mangia!" (Or is that just in the popular imagination?)

A special nod to Lisa Watson of Italian Kiwi, a good friend, whose post and recipe for Arancini was the first I'd ever looked at.

Spinach, Cheddar & Garlic Mini Arancini

Makes 20 - 24

2 cups cooked rice
4 ounces fresh spinach, stems removed
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 ounces grated sharp cheddar
2 eggs
2/3rds cup breadcrumbs
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups oil for frying

1. In a large pan over medium heat add olive oil, then spinach. Add crushed garlic, season with a little salt and pepper and cook until just wilted. Remove from heat and roughly chop spinach.
2. Mix rice, spinach, cheese and a bit more salt and pepper together. Form into balls of approximately 1 heaping Tablespoon. I used my rounded Tablespoon measure, then pressed it in on all sides to form the rounded shape.
3. Set in fridge to firm up for about 1 hour.
4. In a small bowl beat eggs with a fork. Set breadcrumbs in a shallow dish.
5. When arancini have firmed up, dip in egg batter, then cover with breadcrumbs.
6. In a small saucepan with high sides, heat oil to about 200. Cook arancini in a single layer in small batches, 4 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook an additional 3 minutes, or until golden brown.

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