And so, with back to school comes a return of the dreaded lunchbox. Another chore to add to the evening - or worse yet, morning - routine. In order to make the experience more of a challenge I tend towards obsessive health freakishness and insist on making life a thousand times more difficult by ensuring all snacks are home baked, no sugar allowed...and so on, until my head explodes. I so resent the overpriced, palm-oil filled, totally un-nutritious snacks so aggressively marketed to us mas, pas and kiddos, (and yes, this includes all the attractive organic carrot puffs and rice cakes) that I mostly refuse to buy them. The inevitable outcome is that I'm constantly caught short on the snack front, and there's only so many grapes, raisins and satsumas you can shovel down them. SO, on the off-chance I'm not alone in my predicament, I thought I'd have a stab at some easy, nutritious and lunchbox-friendly recipes.
leftover risotto (of any flavour, though I used Beetroot - and the best beetroot risotto recipe in town is this one)
breadcrumbs (you can buy these or stick some vaguely stale bread in the food processor)
Rapeseed oil, 500ml - 1 litre
So you've made a delicious risotto, yippee! But if you're anything like me you have made a bit too much to be eaten at one sitting, but too little to feed the whole family another meal. We always end up with one small tupperware full, languishing in the fridge. Not any more...
Arancini, which means "little oranges" in Italian, have got to be one of the least time consuming, most enjoyable ways to use up leftovers. Proper, traditional arancini back on their home shores tend to be stuffed with ragu or mozzarella, and you are very welcome to do so too, but regular old balls of any kind of risotto are just fab. The risotto is best if it's been left in the fridge overnight to get really stodgy. Heat oil to 170-190 degrees (best if you have a thermometer to check, but if not then give it about 5 mins and then chuck a breadcrumb in and make sure it sizzles instantly.) Then you simply roll the risotto into little balls, dip them to coat with beaten egg, roll them in breadcrumbs and deep fry. The whole process takes no longer than ten minutes, and is nice and quick to tidy up.
Considering they are filled with parmesan-smothered rice, these are understandably bloody delicious hot, but they are fantastic cold in a lunchbox too. Nice and filling, nutritious and reliably devoured. Even Indiana polished them off, and she likes to attempt survival on milk and bananas alone. And apart from the bit in direct contact with sizzling hot oil, they are a great one to make with kids, who love smooshing the rice into balls...or any shape they like!