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Tuscan Recipes: Arancini (Risotto) Balls with Marinara Sauce

By: Steve Keenan Journalist | Specialist in rural tourism

Helen Buxton | Food blogger

Helen Buxton | Food blogger

“One recent ‘big hit’ were these leftover risotto arancini stuffed with oozy mozzarella and dipped in made-from-scratch marinara sauce. The great thing about these is that you can use any kind of leftover risotto you like, or really any kind of rice-heavy dish that you used a sticky kind of rice in. I actually used some leftover chicken paella-style rice.

“For me, cooking/baking is about using everyday ingredients to create something delicious in the least amount of time possible. Let’s face it, we’re all mostly time-poor, especially mid-week – but we’re still hungry and like to eat good food!

“Why the blog (Scrummy Lane?) Well, if nothing else it will be a fun and tidy way for me to archive my recipes for myself — but of course I do hope that you’ll enjoy some of the recipes on here too!

This quick and easy arancini recipe is perfect for making a scrumptious dish with leftover risotto. For best results, roll your risotto into little balls first and let them chill in the fridge while you cook the sauce.”

Arancini (RISOTTO) Balls with Marinara sauce

Arancini (Risotto) Balls with Marinara Sauce

Ingredients for the marinara sauce:

  • Six cloves of garlic, chopped
  • One tin best quality whole tomatoes in their juice
  • ¼ (60 ml) of a cup of extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
  • One whole chilli, fresh or dried
  • One teaspoon salt
  • A few sprigs/small bunch(es) of fresh herbs e.g. basil, parsley, thyme or half a teaspoon of dried oregano (I used thyme and parsley as that’s what I had)
  • A splash of balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar (optional)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the arancini:

  • Leftover risotto
  • Small squares of mozzarella cheese (about 1cm square)
  • One egg, whisked
  • Breadcrumbs (start with two slices of bread: whizz into crumbs in a food processor)
  • Enough olive oil for a shallow layer in a skillet/frying pan

Arancini (Risotto) Balls with Marinara Sauce


  1. Make your marinara sauce first. Crush the tomatoes by pouring them into a bowl and breaking them up in your hands or snipping them with scissors inside the can.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet/frying pan with a fairly large surface area, then add the garlic. Cook until it’s sizzling, making sure it doesn’t brown, then add the tomatoes. Half fill the empty tomato can with water, swish it around and empty that into the pan, too.
  3. Add the chilli, salt and herbs, stir, then let the pan of sauce simmer for about 15 minutes or until thickened and a layer of bright orange oil appears on the surface.
  4. Discard the chili and herbs, then add the balsamic vinegar and sugar if desired.

For the arancini:

  1. Take smallish tablespoons of your chilled leftover risotto and roll into balls.
  2. Push a square of mozzarella into each little ball and mould the rice back around it.
  3. Roll each ball first in the egg then in the breadcrumbs.
  4. Heat the oil, then fry the little balls for a few minutes until nicely browned, turning regularly so that they crisp up well on all sides.
  5. Serve immediately with plenty of fresh marinara sauce for dipping.

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