[T]his recipe was inspired by a) having a LOT of leftover pearl barley risotto (because I can never judge amounts of uncooked rice and pasta and b) those little mouthfuls of Italian heaven called Arancini. Arancini are tiny deep-fried, breadcrumbed balls of coooked risotto, oozing with melted mozarella in the center. They are so delicious that it’s easy to inhale a dozen of them without even noticing, or so I’m told, *ahem*.

Lately we’ve started using pearl barley instead of risotto rice. Although it’s slightly more processed that whole barley, as it’s had the husk removed, it’s still a whole grain and it much less processed than white risotto rice. That has its place of course, but for mid-week family dinners, we’re loving the whole grains, particularly and you don’t really notice the difference and we particularly love the bite and the nutty flavour the pearl barley brings. You use in the just the same way as ordinary ristotto rice.

I’m going to leave the actual making of risotto for another post, as it’s an artform in itself, and I’m going to presume, like me, that you have overcatered and have a bowl ful of leftover risotto sitting in your fridge. By the way, we use our weekly risotto as a chance to clear the fridge. Ends of broccoli, bendy leeks, grated courgettes, slightly wilting herbs – it all goes in. Cooked with chicken stock from the Sunday roast and finished with a generous amount of chese and even the kids love it.

Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
50 min
  1. Cooked leftover risotto
  2. Fresh mozarella
  3. 2 eggs for cooking + 1 egg per portion
  4. Fresh or dried breadcrumbs
  5. 3-4 tablespoons plain flour
  6. 3-4 tablespoons polenta (optional)
  7. Parsley, basil or both
  8. Olive oil
  9. Parmesan cheese
  10. Leaf spinach
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  2. Add an egg, half a cup of breadcrumbs and enough flour to the risotto rice, to bind into a workable dough-like mixture.
  3. Mix well with your hands.
  4. Form the mixture into small patties or cakes.
  5. Take a small piece of mozarella cheese, about a quarter of the size of the cake and press into the middle of the cake, making sure to push through to the center, seal well and re-shape.
  6. When you have made all of your patties, line up a couple of shallow bowls. In one, place the remaining beaten egg. In another, you can use either flour, breadcrumbs or polenta.
  7. We happened to have some leftover polenta and I really like the crunch it gives, but your coating of choice is fine.
  8. Dip each risotto cake in egg, then flour / polenta and set to rest. If you have time, refrigerate them.
  9. Fry in a shallow pan on each side until the cakes have a nice golden crust. Put the cakes in the oven for 10 mins to cook through fully and melt the mozzarella in the centre.
  10. In the meantime, take your parsley, basil or any leftover soft green herb and whizz in a blender with a few good slugs of olive oil and some sea salt to make a bright green oil.
  11. Finally, soft poach one egg per person.
  12. Serve on a few dressed leaves, top with the risotto cake, spinach and herb oil. Garnish with some flaked Parmesan.
  1. Note: Don't make your risotto cakes too big. The heat simply won't cook the cake through properly and they will feel a little on the heavy side.
Life On A Plate https://www.lifeonaplate.co.uk/
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Melissa Love is a food photographer, graphic designer and mum of two, living in Cornwall. Eats all things Cornish. In fact, eats all things.

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