Lentil & Rice Arancini (Gluten-Free)

Posted on by Lisa Codina 411 Views

From my experience, just the shear mention of  a “finger food” recipe gets most parents excited for mealtimes, more so than their own kids! Those easy, fun to eat meals that keep toddlers and babies occupied and interested enough to keep them settled, quiet, contained, (if you will) at the dinner table.

I too, am always contemplating recipes that will keep my kids entertained while they eat (although most times they usually gobble up their food before they even have time to “play” with it!).

If you follow this Blog you know that I’m not a huge fan of those “dress-me-up finger foods so the kids will eat them” meals-mostly because I don’t have the patience nor creativity! For me, “finger food” is defined by a piece of food that you can hold in your fingers…and, that’s about it!

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This recipe was inspired by the original arancini recipe and was only created to use up some overcooked rice (when you have two little ones running around, this happens often!). One of my favourite combos is lentils and rice (have you tried my Coconut-Curried Lentils and Brown Rice recipe?) so the addition of lentils in this recipe was a given. The sweet onions and carrots and tangy Parmesan and spices take these small, simple, “rice balls” to a whole other level.

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As for the preparation, there are a few options;
1) Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, turning a few times, until browned
2) Fry in a deep fryer or frying pan

In my experience, the motto “a little bit of everything in moderation” is the key to a healthy diet so my preferred method is frying! If you choose to bake these, remember to line a large baking sheet with parchment paper so they don’t stick.

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Ingredients
(Yields 14-16 arancini)
1 small carrot, finely diced
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup or more, frying oil of choice
*I used olive oil because I love the flavour, however it tends to burn quickly so it’s best to play it safe and use another oil, such as sunflower or canola
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2-3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
2 large eggs, whisked
1 1/2 cups arborio rice (or brown rice)
1 cup dried green lentils, soaked overnight in a bowl of water
1 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (plus 1/2 cup more for coating)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tbs. fresh parsley, finely minced
4-5 tbs. basil leaves, finely minced
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Lentil and Rice Preparation:
In a large pot, bring 7-8 cups of water to a boil then add the drained lentils and rice. Cook for 30-35 minutes until the rice and lentils are fork tender and al dente. Strain then set aside to cool in a large bowl.

In the meantime, heat olive oil in a small pan on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic, onion and carrots and cook (covered) for 8-10 minutes on medium heat or until fork tender and translucent. Set aside to cool slightly.

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Add the veggies and the remaining ingredients to the lentils and rice and mix with a large wooden spoon (or your hands!) until combined. In two separate bowls, whisk the eggs and add the breadcrumbs to another.

Form the mixture into balls 3-4 inches in diameter. Dip into the egg wash, coat with the breadcrumbs then set aside on a large plate.

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In a medium frying pan, heat 1/2 cup of oil on medium heat until bubbling.
*TIP: A great trick to check if the oil is hot enough is to flick water into the pan with your fingers (if it sizzles, it’s ready) or stick a toothpick into the center of the pan (if bubbles form around the toothpick the oil is ready).

Add the arancini, 5 or 6 at a time (otherwise the oil will cool down too quickly) and saute for 4-5 minutes, turning to brown all sides.

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Set aside to cool on a large plate lined with paper towels and garnish with salt (while they’re still hot so the salt sticks to the arancini!).

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Allow to cool slightly before serving.

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Toddlers and adults can gobble these up in a few bites while baby-led weaning aficionados can break them apart and self-feed.

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  • Lisa Montagliano-Pellegrino

    I am def looking forward to trying one!

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