Recipes from your veg box: Phil's Sicilian Inspired Arancini

Sicilian Inspired Arancini. Credit: Better Food Traders

Published: 28 Mar 2022

Phil Haughton, Founder of Better Food in Bristol and a member of the brilliant Better Food Traders, shares his recipe for Sicilian Inspired Arancini, guaranteed to transport you to sunnier climes.

Better Food is a group of award-winning stores and cafés in Bristol that specialise in organic, local and ethical food and products. 

Phil is also a speaker on the subject of organic farming, and author of the book Food For Thought, where he shares his passion for organic farming and his mission to create a world where food, nature, business and community can all thrive together in harmony.

He says, 'these arancini are reminiscent of my time enjoying delicious street food from the markets in coastal Sicily. Arancini are a perfect street food, like an alternative to a sandwich. Although delicious served fresh and warm they are perfect for a posh picnic or served with salad for a summer starter at home. There are a couple of ways to make arancini, one using boiled rice. However, this version starts with a risotto, which I think offers more depth of flavour.'

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For the rice balls 

  • 1 onion chopped finely 
  • 250 g risotto rice 
  • 1 small pinch of saffron 
  • About 80ml dry white wine 
  • 1 litre hot vegetable stock (preferably fresh and organic, but I think using bouillon is fine) 
  • 30 to 40 g grated parmesan 
  • 1 lemon using both zest and juice 
  • Olive oil 
  • Oil for frying (I use Clearspring sunflower frying oil) 

For the filling 

  • It’s up to you. You could make a stiff bolognaise out of minced pork, but my favourite is with wild mushrooms. 
  • 150 g wild or ordinary mushrooms 
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • 1 teaspoon tomato puree 
  • 150g any good, local, flavoursome cheese 
  • Salt and pepper 

For coating 

  • 80 g plain flour 
  • 1 or 2 free-range eggs whisked up with a fork 
  • 150 g fine dried breadcrumbs 


  • Drizzle some olive oil into a large pan over a low heat, add the onions and cook for 15 minutes or until soft but not coloured. 
  • Turn the heat up to medium, add the rice and stir for a few minutes until all the rice grains are coated, then add the saffron and stir well. 
  • Pour in the wine and let it bubble away for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly. Start adding the stock bit by bit, stirring it through the rice and allowing each amount to become absorbed before adding the next bit. Continue until the rice is cooked through – about 15 to 20 minutes. 
  • Add the grated Parmesan and a squeeze of lemon juice, then leave to cool while you make the filling. 
  • Chop the mushroom and garlic very finely and sauté lightly in olive oil with a little salt. Cook until juices run a little, then add tomato puree, mix well, take off the heat and add grated cheese. 
  • To form the arancini, scoop a portion of the cooled risotto into your hand. Spoon 1 dessert spoon of the filling mixture into the centre and wrap the risotto around it to seal completely. Repeat with the remaining risotto and filling. 
  • To coat, place the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs into separate shallow bowls. Dip each arancini ball into the flour, then the egg, and finally the crumbs, ensuring the rice is completely coated. Set aside. 
  • Pour enough vegetable oil into a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan that will just cover the arancini and place over a high heat. To test that the oil is hot enough, drop in a few breadcrumbs – if they sizzle and float, it is ready. 
  • Carefully lower in the arancini with a slotted spoon and deep-fry for about 8 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Using a spoon with holes transfer to a double layer of kitchen paper to drain. 

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