What would a culinary trip of the world be without a few stops in Italy? This is the cuisine I tend to lean on when I am looking for some comfort. I know that most of what we would think of Italian food here in North America is not exactly what people in Italy would actually eat, more our version with extra cheese on top usually. For my first stop I decided to hit Bryanna Clark Grogan's book, Nonna's Italian Kitchen which I recently added to my ever growing cookbook library. I honestly spent hours reading this book from cover to cover. It is bursting with information and variations and history. I love it! I picked out the Risotto Giallo Classico (Classic Yellow Risotto) as my first foray into the book. I have only made risotto once before and that was a long time ago but it was just like riding a bike. I remembered quickly about all the stirring and how you would be greatly rewarded for your patience in the end. I used a few bouillon cubes for the stock but next time I would definitely take the time to make my own and make sure it was strong. You are really depending on the stock for the flavour in this dish so use the best quality you have access to. I love the bright yellow colour from the saffron, it really brightened up my plate which I appreciate now that supper time has gotten much darker as winter approaches (ugh!). I served this up with some slices of crusty bread and some peas which aren't pictured. It was a warm, hearty supper that we all really enjoyed!
And the next day with the leftover risotto, I did what some inventive (genius) Italian cook did so long ago (in the 10th century apparently!!)...I made arancini! I actually used Miyoko Schinner's recipe for Risotto Fritters from Artisan Vegan Cheese for them since I had been eyeing the recipe since I first got the book. And I just happened to have a few balls of Meltable Mozzarella (also in the book and Sept/Oct VegNews too) in the fridge awaiting their destiny to be the center of my risotto fritters too! I skipped the sauce from the recipe and opted for the much quicker (store bought) marinara to accompany them but the best part was the fresh basil on top. Fresh basil just always makes anything Italian taste better doesn't it?! The mozzarella melted perfectly in the center and added a really rich, creaminess to each bite. There is the option to bake them but I went for the fried route figuring it wasn't something I would make all the time, might as well go for it. The breadcrumbs were perfectly crispy and added a nice textural contrast to the creamy inside. Definitely the way to go! In the picture below it looks like I am serving up just one each but trust me, Ryan and I popped a lot more than one each but I knew it would look super adorable in these little dishes. It would be a great way to serve them as hors d'oeuvres!