Monday, 30 January 2012

Squash and Butterbean Arancini

Recently I had my Dad come to stay, and as he's not as committed to getting his five-a-day as I might have hoped ("I eat vegetables a couple of times a week, I don't know what all the fuss is about!") I had to think of a way to fool him into eating them. He really loves butterbeans, so I thought a butterbean-based risotto might just do the trick.

Now because risotto takes so much time and attention, I never make it in anything less than a mammoth batch, freezing any excess for future dinners. And this means that I often have the raw materials in for the naughty delight of arancini... little fried rice balls with a gooey cheesy centre.

The risotto itself is a pretty good value meal, but since the arancini are made up from its leftovers, they're basically free food. I've submitted both to the Frugal Food Friday blogroll, hosted by Fuss Free Flavours.

Squash and Butterbean risotto
serves 4-6


1 medium-sized squash (butternut, acorn or any small-ish squash work well)
1 tin butterbeans, drained
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped into rings
3 cloves garlic, crushed
knob butter
4-5tblsp olive oil
5-6 sundried tomatoes, chopped into sixths
2 cups risotto rice
1 litre good vegetable stock
small handful chopped fresh sage (or 1tsp dried)
tablespoon fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
tablespoon cider vinegar (optional)
salt and black pepper

1. Chop your squash in half, remove the seeds and scatter them across a small baking tray, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place your squash, cut-side down, on another baking tray. Add about 1cm depth of boiling water to the tray with the squash on and pop both trays in the oven at 200 degrees celcius. The squash will take about 20minutes to become tender, but you should check the seeds after ten minutes and give them a good shake about. The seeds will be done when they are no longer moist, but crisp and golden on the outside. When the seeds are done, set them to one side to cool. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Melt the butter in a large pan with a tablespoon of the oil, then gently fry off the onion for a couple of minutes before adding the leek and garlic and frying for another minute or so.

3. Add the sage, rosemary, tomatoes and rice, and keep stirring for a couple of minutes until the grains and coated in the buttery oil, and all the ingredients are evenly mixed together

4. Next, start adding the stock, a little at a time, and stirring continuously until it is completely absorbed. When you have added half to three quarters of the stock, it's probably time to retrieve the squash from the oven. Let it cool until you can safely handle it, and while you are waiting, add the butterbeans to the risotto with some more stock, stirring continuously. 

5. Using a dessertspoon, scoop out the tender flesh of the squash. It should be pretty much cooked. I like to keep it in fairly large chunks for texture. You can add it straight to the risotto with any remaining stock and the cider vinegar, if using. Stir until all liquid is dissolves, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately. Alternatively, you can allow this to cool and freeze it to eat later.

Squash and Butterbean Arancini
Makes 15-20

This recipe works with any leftover rice or risotto dish. However, it tastes particularly good with this risotto due to the sweetness of the squash, and the slight bite of the cider vinegar. These arancini do end up a little larger than usual though, as they have to accomodate whole butterbeans.

2 cups leftover squash and butterbean risotto
15-20 1cm cubes of cheddar cheese
handful grated cheddar cheese
6-8 slices bread, as breadcrumbs
4tblsp vegetable oil

1. Mix about a third of the breadcrumbs into the risotto, together with the grated cheese, and mould this into balls about 2-3cm across.

2. Insert a cube of cheese into the centre of each ball, and roll the balls in the breadcrumbs.

3. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan, and shallow fry the balls for about 5mins, until golden brown all over. When done, sit on a piece of kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil.

4. Serve immediately. These are delicious served as a main meal in a tomato sauce, or accompanied by a peppery rocket salad and tomato pasta salad.

Inspired? Check out some more frugal recipes...


  1. Ooh those look delicious. I love arancini, but have never made them with veg and beans mixed into the rice...yum!

  2. Thanks very much! I really love arancini, but I don't make them often enough, because they're quite naughty... but somehow the veg and beans make these ones seem a lot easier to justify ;)