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Arancini: The Golden Fried Rice Of Italy

04/10/2012 09:00 am ET | Updated Oct 18, 2012

If you've never heard of arancini, you should definitely read on. Your culinary world is about to be blown. Arancini, which means little oranges in Italian, originated in Sicily. Name and appearance aside, arancini are not at all related to the orange fruit; they're fried balls of risotto.

We all know how amazing risotto is, so you can imagine how delicious it becomes when breaded and fried to golden perfection. And if that wasn't enough to entice you, traditional arancini are filled with a tomato-y meat ragu.

But we haven't told you the best part yet. Arancini is the perfect solution for a quick dinner and a great way to use up Italian leftovers. It's a win-win dinner option. While making risotto takes time and patience, arancini can be ready in no time. And since risotto is never as good the next day, using it to fry these golden balls just makes sense.

While the more traditional arancini are made with a basic risotto and a ragu filling, the possibilites are endless -- you just have to get creative with it. You could use a more elaborate risotto, such as a Fennel and Sausage Risotto recipe as a base, and then fill it simply with a little mozzarella cheese for extra creamy goodness. Or you could stuff it with nuts for a nice, crunchy texture like in this Toasted Pistachio-Cheese Arancini recipe. You could even stray from the classic Italian flavors and move over to neighboring Greece with a Lemon and Feta Arancini recipe.

And the possibilities don't just end with savory dishes, arancini can make a sweet dessert, too. Just swap the risotto for rice pudding and the filling for something sweet (we think it's pretty great with a bit of dried fruit, chocolate or Nutella.)

What's your favorite arancini recipe? Leave a comment.

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