Parsnip & Mozzarella Arancini

Parsnips might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to Italian cuisine, but I had a hunch they might work really well with the creaminess of a risotto, and I think I was right – the earthy sweetness of the parsnips is balanced with a bit of spice and the gorgeous gooiness of mozzarella. You can either serve this straight up as a risotto, or allow it to cool and form into balls to make arancini. If you’re only serving two, you should have enough to do both.

1 large parsnip
200g risotto rice
1 small onion
1 stick of celery
1 fat clove of garlic
A glass of white wine
A couple of pints of vegetable stock
A ball of mozzarella
Olive oil
Curry powder
A bit of grated cheddar, to serve

Makes enough for two, with a bit left over

Begin by finely dicing the garlic, onion, celery and parsnip. The smaller the pieces, the smoother the risotto will be. Then get all the vegetables sizzling gently in a pan over a low heat, with a generous scoop of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. In the meantime, boil the kettle and make up a jug of vegetable stock.

Keep stirring the vegetables as they fry (add more butter if it’s looking a little dry), then once the onion is translucent and the parsnip is nicely softened, add the rice and stir to coat with melted butter. Sprinkle generously with turmeric and a teaspoon of curry powder.

Turn up the heat a bit and start adding the stock a bit at a time, stirring in between and waiting until the stock is absorbed before adding any more. Top up your jug of stock with hot water when it starts to get low.

It should take about 20 minutes for the rice to cook. Once the grains are starting to look plump and juicy, have a taste and keep adding more boiling water as necessary, then once it’s done, season well. Grate a generous handful of cheddar cheese and stir through until it melts.

Next, divide the risotto in half and set one lot aside to cool, for arancini the following day. Roughly chop half the mozzarella ball and stir through the remaining half of the rice, and serve up straight away.

When you come to make the arancini, the rice should be completely cold. First, sprinkle a little flour onto a plate. Scoop up a handful of risotto, press a small chunk of mozzarella into the middle, and then mould into a ball around it. Roll it lightly in the flour and then give it a shake to get rid of any excess. Repeat with all the risotto leftovers, then pop into a frying pan over a high heat with a good splash of olive oil. Move around gently with a wooden spoon to crisp up the arancini on all sides. Once they’ve turned a nice golden brown, scoop out carefully and serve up with a fresh green salad and a little cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.