These rice croquettes are moulded around nuggets of mozzarella and rolled in breadcrumbs before cooking. Traditionally croquettes are deep-fried, but these are oven-baked for a modern streamlined version that is much healthier.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
200g arborio (risotto) rice
3 tablespoons dry vermouth
600ml hot vegetable stock
pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup fine white breadcrumbs, made from bread 1–2 days old
50g mozzarella cheese, cut into 8 cubes
100g baby spinach leaves to serve
lemon wedges to serve
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Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir. Stir in the vermouth and boil until it has almost evaporated. Add a ladleful of stock and simmer, stirring, until it is almost all absorbed. Continue adding stock, a ladleful at a time, allowing it to be almost absorbed before adding the next, stirring frequently, about 15–20 minutes. The risotto is ready when the rice is tender but the grains are still firm, and the overall texture is creamy.
Remove from heat and season with pepper. Stir in the egg and Parmesan cheese, then leave to cool. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Heat a lightly oiled ovenproof dish in the oven. Mix the breadcrumbs with some pepper on a large plate. Spoon the risotto into 8 mounds on a board. Press a cube of mozzarella into the centre of each mound, then press the risotto over the cheese to enclose it. With your hands, mould each mound into a neat egg-shaped croquette. Roll the croquettes in the seasoned breadcrumbs until completely coated. Place in the hot ovenproof dish and bake for 30–40 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden-brown and crisp.
Make a heap of spinach leaves on 4 plates and top each one with 2 croquettes. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges.