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Rice Balls


Arancini, rice balls, are a popular Sicilian snack and one that holds the contributions of many foreign cultures that influenced Sicilian cuisine; rice and saffron from the Arabs, sheep's milk cheese from the Greeks, ragu from the French and tomatoes from the Spanish.


1 cup Arborio rice

2 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon saffron threads dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1/4 pound diced prosciutto di Parma

1/2 cup shredded Fontina cheese

1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas

3 large eggs

Salt to taste

2 cups dry toasted bread crumbs

Canola or peanut oil for frying


Pour the rice into a 2 quart sauce pan and add the water. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and allow the rice to cook, covered until all the liquid has evaporated.

Strain the saffron threads and add the saffron water to the rice. Stir well. Off the heat, stir in the Pecorino cheese, parsley and one egg. Salt to taste. Let cool.

Combine the filling in a bowl by mixing together the prosciutto di Parma, Fontina cheese, and the peas.

To assemble the rice balls, flour your hands, and grab about 1/2 cup of the rice in the palm of your hand; form a ball shape, then make an indentation in the center. Fill the indentation with a generous tablespoon of the filling. Close the rice around the filling to make a ball the size of a small orange. Set aside.

Have a bowl of flour for your hands.

In a shallow dish, beat the remaining 2 eggs. Spread the bread crumbs on a plate. Dip the balls into the eggs, turning to coat them well. Roll the balls in the bread crumbs to coat them evenly. Then let them dry on a plate for about 45 minutes.

In a deep fryer or deep heavy pan, heat the oil to 375F. Fry the balls until they are golden brown on all sides. Drain them on brown paper and serve immediately, with lemon wedges or fresh tomato sauce.

This recipe is featured on show 1806 - Cooking Live with Roberto Donna.


  1. Anne Zicari-Lopez's avatar

    Anne Zicari-Lopez

    Mary Ann, I have enjoyed your cooking show since day one when you first aired in Rochester NY on Sat. mornings in 1981, I believe. "Nonnie's Kitchen" I purchased four of your little cookbooks - one for myself and the rest for my children. they were the closest recipes closest to my mother's recipes. In addition, my children have gifted me with current books which I enjoy making because they are delicious and for the most part, easy to prepare. Not many failures the thrirty years. In 2005 my children gifted me with a trip to Sicily sponsored by the Casa Italiana & the Psychology Dept. from Nazareth College. My first trip ever to Europe and a joy to visit the home towns of my parents who had immigrated when children. The Sicilian people were so very warm and friendly. Unfortunately, health and wealth make it impossible for me to visit again. But I have wonderful memories and Photos that I enjoy looking at again and again. Thank you.

    Anne Zicari-Lopez
    Rochester NY

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