Smoked Salmon Arancini with Almond Pesto

Smoked Salmon Arancini with Almond Pesto

salmon1I suffer from chronic food indecision. I often have two very different but equally pressing food cravings simultaneously. This is why I cook so much fusion food and today’s Smoked Salmon Arancini is no exception.

Most of the time when conflicting cravings hit you have to make peace with the fact that one-half of you is going to be crushed by your ultimate decision. And you’re probably going to believe that the disappointed half was “right” all along. You didn’t actually want Afghani, you really wanted Vietnamese. It starts to feel like you wasted a meal time, and man, there are only three of those in a day if you’re lucky.

Smoked Salmon Arancini wit Mascarpone and Mint Centers

Fusion is a way out of this lose/lose scenario and since I am very much a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too kind of person, it’s really my only option. Take these Smoked Salmon Arancini for example. This recipe was the result of wanting arancini at an absurdly early hour while simultaneously nursing a need for bagels and lox. This is typical of my post-morning-run hangriness; I tend to want everything at the same time. I think on that particular day the bagel scenario was more feasible (it was, like, 9 am on a Saturday), so it won out. But I swore I would remember that twinge of disappointment and never let it happen again. I would learn from this setback. I would grow, thrive and make brunch-appropriate arancini. It’s important to have goals.

Smoked Salmon Arancini

Now, I realize fusion isn’t always possible, but every now and then you can bypass heartbreak and have it all. When enough of a common thread exists between otherwise completely different dishes, I say jump in with both feet. I knew smoked salmon would get along famously with a plain-clothes risotto but I was stumped on how to address the cream cheese factor that is essential to bagels and lox. Add cream cheese to anything and it’s automatically a brunch item. So, if I was going to make these breakfast arancini, I knew there would have to be a creamy cheese element involved.

Smoked Salmon Arancini

For reasons I don’t quite understand, I wasn’t particularly taken with the idea of an actual cream cheese center. It didn’t seem lush enough for the occasion. I thought maybe I would use Boursin for a while, but I was keen to make a savory mascarpone having only worked with it when making tiramisu. In the end, I thought the mascarpone captured the texture of a good cream cheese but with a little less tang and I liked that. It did not interrupt the mellow nutty notes of the Parmesan or compete with the zing of the lemon juice or dill. In short, it was perfect.

Smoked Salmon Arancini

These Smoked Salmon Arancini are very balanced in flavor and a part of your balanced breakfast (provided you count fried food as balanced). I could not be more pleased with how at home they were on my breakfast table. I fed them to my girlfriends as part of a lady brunch and no one felt they were out of place. I guess it goes to show that if you slap smoked salmon on something and serve it with a mimosa you can call it brunch. This is a good thing because I already want to put smoked salmon on everything and, quite frankly, my post-morning run cravings are never meal-time appropriate.

Smoked Salmon Arancini looking at home on the breakfast table.

Now, go forth and build a better brunch with these morning-friendly Smoked Salmon Arancini.

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Smoked Salmon Arancini with Almond Pesto

Yield: Makes 16 Arancini

Ingredients

    Smoked Salmon Arancini
  • 1 batch Lemon Parmesan Risotto
  • 150 grams smoked salmon, chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 1 batch Mint Mascarpone
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 cups Canola Oil for frying
  • Lemon Parmesan Risotto
  • 5-6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine, divided
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mint Mascarpone Center
  • 250 grams mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chiffonade
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Almond Pesto
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh flat leaf parsley, washed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup almonds, roasted & unsalted
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

    For the Lemon Parmesan Risotto
  1. Place vegetable broth in a large sauce pan over high heat. Bring broth to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and sautee until just translucent. Add garlic and sautee until fragrant.
  3. Add rice and sautee until it begins to crackle. Immediately add 1/2 a cup of the white wine and stir until absorbed.
  4. Begin adding vegetable broth to the rice, two ladles full at a time. Stir until the broth is absorbed then repeat until the broth is down to a cup.
  5. At this point, add the remaining 1/2 cup of wine and stir until absorbed.
  6. Taste the rice. It should be smooth and creamy with a slight bite. If it seems too firm, add the remaining broth. If not, proceed to the next step.
  7. Next, add the lemon juice and stir until the juice is absorbed.
  8. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.
  9. At this point you can serve this for supper and call it a day. But if you're keen to make arancini, let the risotto cool to room temperature and then store it in the refrigerator until chilled. About three hours.
  10. For the Mint Mascarpone Centers
  11. Place all ingredients in a large mixing-bowl and stir to combine.
  12. Spoon mixture into a piping bag and pipe 16 dollops on a cookie sheet or another flat surface. The dollops should be approximately 1-inch in diameter.
  13. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 2 hours or until frozen.
  14. Almond Pesto
  15. Place parsley, garlic, almonds and cheese in a large food processor. Pulse until uniform and relatively smooth.
  16. With the food processor running on low, slowly add the lemon juice and olive oil to the parsley mixture.
  17. Once the oil and lemon juice is well integrated, taste the pesto and season with salt accordingly.
  18. To Make the Smoked Salmon Arancini
  19. Place risotto, smoked salmon and dill in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
  20. Take a small handful of the rice mixture and place a frozen mint mascarpone dollop in the center of that handful. Mold the rice mixture around the dollop until it is completely encased. Repeat with remaining risotto and mascarpone dollops.
  21. Mix breadcrumbs and salt together and pour mixture on to a large plate. Place the flour on a large plate and beat eggs in a medium-sized bowl.
  22. Take each rice ball and roll them in flour, then dip them in the beaten eggs and finally coat them in the breadcrumb and salt mixture. Repeat with all the rice balls.
  23. In a large cast iron frying pan heat canola oil until it reaches a temperature of 350 F.
  24. Add six arancini balls at a time and fry until golden brown, turning once. About 3 minutes a side.
  25. Place finished arancini on a large plate lined with paper towel.
  26. Keep warm in 150 F oven until ready to serve.
  27. Serve with Almond Pesto, fresh Parmesan cheese and a mimosa.
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