Cheesy baked asparagus arancini

Feeding a toddler can be a challenge.

One minute, they love something, the next they are throwing it on the floor. Luckily we have dogs and chickens who can chow down on what little miss suddenly decides she doesn’t like.

Today, it was strawberries. Something she can normally not get enough of is suddenly being tossed on the floor piece by piece at breakfast. Followed by her cereal. She ate the yogurt and pineapple so at least there was some kind of a win in there.

I wasn’t sure what she was going to think of these cheesy baked asparagus arancini, or is predecessor, Parmesan asparagus risotto (which I did not get a picture of), but it was a win on both counts.

I will be making risotto again soon just so I can make these cheesy baked asparagus arancini with the leftovers.

 

I underestimated the cook time on our grilled chicken breasts and ended up with risotto that was finished long before the chicken. Risotto is something that you really should eat right away to enjoy it’s creamy perfection. Wait too long and you end up with a gluey mess of rice and whatever fixings you may have added.

So of course we sat at the kitchen counter and sampled the risotto while the chicken finished on the grill. Daddy was out cutting the grass so he didn’t get to enjoy this risotto in it’s proper form.

It was delicious. And Emelia even agreed.

Asparagus is a vegetable you wouldn’t catch me eating as a child. At some point in my adult years, when I decided to try and be more open to different foods, I decided to try a gangly green spear and surprised myself when I actually enjoyed how it tastes.

Asparagus is the first crop to pop up on market stands in Ontario, along with rhubarb.

It is a sure sign that fresh fruits and vegetables will finally be here once again. Goodbye imported, tasteless strawberries, hello locally-grown goodness.

I was disappointed to head out to the first markets in our area last week and not find asparagus. Finally, this week I tracked some down and grabbed a bunch.

While my favourite way to prepare asparagus is wrapped in prosciutto and grilled, with our without the addition of a good smoked cheese, it’s not exactly a healthy way to feed it to the toddler (or the adults). I had bought some arborio rice recently with the intention of making risotto and decided asparagus was the perfect addition to this creamy rice dish I have been craving, along with some fresh garlic and salty Parmesan cheese.

The first bite I gave Emelia had no asparagus. It was straight creamy, cheesy rice.

She licked her lips and looked back at the pot on the stove indicating she wanted more.

This time I took out some larger pieces of asparagus and cut them into toddler sized pieces. I scooped up a piece of asparagus with the creamy risotto and fed it to the awaiting toddler.

She looked back at the pot.

More. She wanted more.

This time I tried more asparagus and less rice.

Same result.

I had a winner. Not only in the risotto, but in the asparagus.

The chicken was finally done and we ate our mushy cheesy baked asparagus risotto. It was still good, but not as good. Emelia had no complaints. She happily shoveled the gooey mess into her mouth.

The recipe made a ton of risotto.

If it’s not as enjoyable 15 minutes after it’s ready, it’s definitely not going to be any better the next day.

But I hated to waste what was left.

The solution, roll it into a ball, stick a piece of cheese in the middle, roll them in some breadcrumbs and bake them until they are crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside.

These arancini are easy, cheesy and oh so good.

 

I could have eaten the entire tray of these cheesy baked asparagus arancini but I stopped myself. I did, after all, want to see if the toddler would eat them, and she was asleep.

These are perfect for lunch or as a side dish.

Emelia had them this afternoon with some leftover Annie’s mac n’ cheese. She was a bit hesitant about trying them at first but once she inspected it enough to bring it to her lips she was glad that she did.

I will admit, little bits of these cheesy baked asapragus arancini did end up on the floor, but most of her helping made it’s way into her tummy.

I will make this risotto again (and better time it’s accompaniment) just so that I can make these cheesy baked rice balls before the short window that is asparagus season closes.

Parmesan Asparagus Risotto

  • 1 1/2 C arborio rice
  • 1 900 ml carton of organic chicken broth
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 C Parmesan cheese
  • 1 C asparagus spears cut into small pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat broth in a small pot. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat so it stays hot.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Saute until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute.

Add rice to the pan and coat with olive oil. Saute for a minute or two avoiding browning the rice.

Add the wine ad stir until the liquid has been absorbed.

Add a ladlefull of stock to the pot and stir until that has absorbed. Repeat the process until you have roughly 2 ladlefulls left.

Add the asparagus with the second last ladlefull of stock. Once that has absorbed, add remaining stock and cheese. Stir until the liquid has mostly absorbed. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy immediately.

Risotto is great on it’s own or as a side dish and worth the effort of constantly stirring.

Now for the main star of this post

Cheesy Baked Asparagus Arancini

  • Leftover Parmesan asparagus risotto
  • 1/4 C Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 C bread crumbs
  • 10 pieces mozzarella, cubed (more depending on how much leftover risotto you have)
  • Olive oil for brushing

Heat oven to 450.

Take out any large chunks of asparagus and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Combine leftover risotto and cheese in a mixing bowl.

Place breadcrumbs and shallow dish and beat eggs in another shallow dish.

Take a small mound of the risotto mixture in your hand and flatten it. Add chunk of mozzarella to the middle and then form ball around cheese.

Roll ball in breadcrumbs, then dip in egg and back into breadcrumb. Place arancini on lightly oiled baking tray. Brush with additional olive oil.

Bake 8 minutes. Flip arancini and bake additional 5 minutes.

Enjoy them while they are hot and gooey.

These cheesy baked asparagus arancini are great as a lunch or side dish.


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