Food & Drink, Recipes

The Great Canadian Food Adventure: Arancini (rice balls)

For this week’s recipe, I can take no credit. I didn’t prep them. I didn’t make them. All I did was eat them. And they were absolutely delicious! The recipe comes courtesy of a special guest, GCFA’s boyfriend Mike. I’m a big procrastinator and often leave these blog posts to the last minute, which I did again this week. I make a promise to you, dear reader, to be better prepared in the weeks to come.

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While making dinner the other night, it occurred to me that the arancini Mike was making would make a perfect GCFA (and that I also didn’t have a recipe in mind yet). So, in true lazy man’s fashion, I decided to use his idea. He deserves full credit for these delicious and cheesy rice balls, which are often served at Italian restaurants. They are an Italian tradition, originally from Sicily (and originating in the 10th century, if you believe Wikipedia). They are often served with a simple marinara or meat sauce for dipping. In my family we don’t use the sauce and eat the arancini as is, enjoying their cheesy, gooey goodness. But Mike made a basic, but flavourful tomato sauce, and it complimented them perfectly. The recipe is simple: make risotto, form into balls, bread and pan fry. The mustard and wine gave the rice a nice kick, and the cheese gave it a lot of flavour. This isn’t a recipe you can whip up in 20 minutes, but it’s worth the wait when you eat them.

Fun Fact of the Day

According to the government of Manitoba, Canada produces 140,000 to 300,000 tonnes of mustard seed annually, accounting for 75% to 80% of all mustard exports worldwide. The value of all those exports is approximately $70-million a year, and Western Canada is consistently ranked among the world’s best mustard seed producers.



  • 2 cups of stock (whatever you prefer. Vegetable was used for this recipe)
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp mustard (this recipe used Kozlik’s sweet & smokey)
  • 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1/3 cup of white flour
  • 1 cup each of shredded crotonese and asiago cheeses


  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
  • 1 can of crushed/pureed tomatoes
  • 1/3 can of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • couple dashes of corse salt, pepper and olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves (remove from sauce before serving)


  • 1/2 to 1 cup each of cornmeal, semolina and breadcrumbs


  • oil for pan frying


  1. Put some stock to boil and keep on low.
  2. In a large, lidded sauce pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add onions and sautée until golden. Add mustard and arborio rice, and stir until evenly coated.
  3. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of wine. Cover with lid, and let rice absorb the wine. Then add one ladle of stock and stir. Cover until stock is absorbed. Continue to add stock, one ladle at a time, until rice is cooked.
  4. Remove from heat, add flour and mix well. Then add in cheeses and mix.
  5. Next make the tomato sauce. Gently fry some chopped garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil.
  6. Add crushed or pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, salt, pepper, bay leaves and a dash of olive oil. Let simmer until flavours blend.
  7. While sauce is simmering, fry the arancini. Heat approximately 1cm to 2 cm of vegetable oil in a skillet.
  8. In a small bowl mix cornmeal, semolina and bread crumbs.With a spoon scoop out some risotto and roll in the dry mix. Roll into a ball. It doesn’t need to be perfect just coated.
  9. When oil is hot, place arancini in frying pan, turning after 1 minute so that coating is brown and has formed a crust. Be careful not to let them burn.
  10. Remove and let drain on a paper towel.
  11. When they are all fried, serve with a small bowl of sauce for dipping or pour some sauce on top or just eat them plain. Makes approximately 20 arancini.
  12. Enjoy!


Paolo Zinatelli is a writer for Spectator Tribune. Follow him at: @paoloz5

Ingredients and method, courtesy of Mike, a Toronto-based vintage interior design consultant.