I know before I even begin that you really aren't looking for pesto--everyone already loves pesto for so many reasons! But honestly, this is so much more than pesto. It all began with the purchase of some Pesto Sausage from Creminelli Fine Meats--if you haven't had it, I highly recommend their sausage! You could certainly substitute your favorite Italian sausage, but I'm just saying... Then an Italian friend suggested we declare a National Arancini Day--which I thought was a grand idea. One thing lead to another and when it was all said and done and ready to eat, I couldn't have been more pleased with the results. I wouldn't change one thing. (ps...the risotto was delicious, too!) —Annelle
- Serves 12 appetizer, 4 main course
left over, cold, Pesto Sausage Risotto*
fresh mozzarella (one inch cubes)
all purpose flour
homemade seasoned bread crumbs
Canola oil, for frying
Fresh Basil Pesto**, to serve
- Divide cold risotto into about 12 one-eighth cup pieces. Place a cube of mozzarella into each, and roll between your palms into balls.
- Heat oil in heavy pot to 350 degrees. The oil should be about two-three inches deep. I use a small, deep pot and only fry two or three rice balls at a time.
- Roll each rice ball in flour, dip in beaten egg, and then roll in bread crumbs.
- Slip into heated oil, and let fry for 3-4 minutes, turning a couple of times with a wooden spoon. The rice balls should be browned and crispy on the outside, and cook long enough to melt the cheese.
- Remove from oil and briefly drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with fresh basil pesto.
- *Pesto Sausage Risotto 2 T butter 2 T extra virgin olive oil 1 small sweet onion, diced One-half pound (Creminelli) Pesto Sausage, removed from casing and diced 1 cup Arborio rice Three-fourths cup white wine, room temperature 3 cups chicken broth, warmed to a simmer 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese One-fourth cup fresh basil chiffonade Add butter and olive oil to medium sized pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and sausage and saute until onion is soft and transparent, and sausage is browned. Add rice, stir to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes, to coat rice well and slightly toast. Add wine, stirring until wine is nearly absorbed. Then begin adding chicken broth, about three-fourths cup at a time, until rice is al dente with creamy consistency. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Cover and let rest for a few minutes. Just before serving, stir in fresh basil.
- **Fresh Pesto 3-4 cups fresh basil leaves 3 chopped garlic cloves One-half cup lightly toasted pine nuts 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese One-third to One-half cup extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Zest of one lemon, optional Juice of one-half lemon, optional Add the basil leaves, chopped garlic, pine nuts and parmesan cheese to the food processor. Blend until mixed. With processor running, add olive oil until thick sauce is formed. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Add lemon zest and juice as you’re processing the basil leaves for an extra flavor layer.)