Makes: 42 (approx)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 cups arborio rice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Small pinch saffron threads
1.5-2 litres unsalted homemade stock (vegetable or chicken), heated
120g packet baby kale
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan
1 lemon, zest finely grated, juiced
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Panko crumbs, for rolling
1 Heat the oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add onion, celery and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until very soft and just starting to colour. Stir in rice, garlic and saffron. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
2 Stir in half the heated stock, cover and cook for 10 minutes untouched. Stir in remaining stock and cook, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes more, stirring occasionally or until the stock has been absorbed and the rice al dente.
3 Add kale, butter and parmesan. Stir well then remove pan from heat. Stand, covered, for 5 minutes (the residual heat from the pan will wilt the kale perfectly). Stir in zest and juice and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Cool. Chill the risotto mixture for at least 2 hours or overnight if time permits (you want it nice a firm).
4 Roll the chilled risotto into balls using slightly damp hands (I did 2 tablespoon measures), then coat in panko. Place on a baking paper lined tray. Freeze straight away or bake in a 220C/200C fan-forced oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Serve warm
– If you are not a confident chopper, you can coarsely grate the onion and celery. At this stage try adding other finely chopped or grated vegetables such as fennel, pumpkin and zucchini.
– The amount of stock you will need will all depend on the heat you use and type of arborio grain too.
– You can find packets of baby kale in one of those large supermarkets…. Substitute with 1/2 bunch kale (leaves shredded) or use baby spinach instead.
– Panko cumbs are a Japanese crumb available in major supermarkets and Asian grocers. You can use dried breadcrumbs or for gluten-free use rice crumbs or polenta.
– Traditionally you make a risotto by adding small amounts of stock at a time and stirring until it has been completely absorbed by the rice. My method, although not traditional, still produces the same creamy texture of a regular risotto except that I don’t need to stand at the stove for 20 odd minutes!
– As we don’t own a microwave, I like to freeze the crumbed risotto balls first until firm then I portion them (usually 4 balls) into smaller packaging. When I need them for a meal I will bake from frozen as indicated in method above – just add an extra 5 minutes to the baking time. If you have a microwave, simply bake straight away, cool then freeze and all you need to do is reheat the frozen balls gently in the microwave before serving.
– The risotto mixture makes quite a lot of balls, so what I tend to do is serve the risotto for dinner for my husband and myself with some grilled chicken or fish then simply use the remaining leftover risotto to make the balls the next day.