Risotto Balls – I think I found a new Vegetarian Favorite!

Risotto Balls all crispy and golden in color on the outside and soft and gooey AND cheesy on the inside…it is what foodie dreams are made of. Seriously, if you think risotto is delicious, you will love risotto balls, they are everything a good risotto should be, but better!
I am so glad I prepared this Meatless Monday meal earlier in the week, because after yesterdays awesome, awesome 2011 Foodbloggers Indaba, I must say I feel a tad frail this morning. Nevertheless, life goes on and I would hate for you to come and visit and leave empty handed……..
The concept of making risotto balls has never really appealed to me for two reasons, the one being that I do not like the whole ritual of crumbing stuff. I love eating it, but the lengthy proses of dipping on flour, dipping in egg wash and then dipping in breadcrumbs is way to tedious and leaves just too many extra dishes. The second reason being that we never have any risotto left over. We love eating all kinds of risotto, Blue Cheese Risotto with Crumbed Honey Comb, Spring Risotto with Peas and Goat’s Cheese, Red Wine risotto with Pan Fried Shiitake Mushrooms and  and when I am too tired to stand and stir in ladle’s full of stock, I simply make Oven-Baked Risotto!

The one night I just happen to see Ina Carten making Risotto Balls on the Food network and you know how it is with the Barefoot Contessa, she just has a knack for making everything look so easy and effortless. I had no more valid excuse, I just had to make them and I hope you will too after reading all this. Just a little warning.
I served the Risotto Balls with a chunky, spicy Chili and Tomato Sauce and although my hand slipped horribly with the Verlaque Chili Oil, hubby said the heat was not offensive at all and it actually worked well with the creaminess of the cheesy Risotto Balls.
I made a joke at the conference last night saying that I expect everyone to have a Meatless Monday post up today. I hope I did not put anybody but myself under pressure. I do however support this movement wholeheartedly.

Risotto Balls with Chunky Chili Tomato Sauce

Serves 4 – plus a few leftover for lunchboxes

1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
3 heaped tbsp greek yogurt
3 jumbo or extra-large eggs

30gr or 1 small punnet chives – chopped finely
1 cup strong white cheddar cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

salt/pepper to taste
1 cup breadcrumbs
vegetable oil for deep frying.

For the Spicy Chunky Tomatao sauce

250gr cocktail tomatoes, halved
1 tin chopped tomatoes
a hanful of fresh basil
olive oil

1 tbsp chili oil or ½ tsp chili powder
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar

Cook the rice in a pot of water like you would cook any other rice until the grains are quite soft. Rinse under cold water and keep until you need it. Whisk together the yogurt and the eggs. Add all the other ingredients except the breadcrumbs. Cover the mixture and leave in the fridge over night if you can otherwise just an hour or so will do.
Before you start frying the risotto balls, make your tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a pot and saute the cocktail tomatoes until they burst, but they must still remain chunky and have a bite to them. Add all the other ingredients and cook for about 5 minutes to reduce the sauce somewhat. Taste and adjust seasoning. Keep warm.

To make the risotto ballas, dip your hands in water and shape the balls , about the size of a small tangerine. When all the risotto balls are made, spread the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl and roll all the balls in the crumbs, making sure they are covered completely. Place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Heat the oil in a deep pot, I use my wok and when the oil is ready, fry the risotto balls until they are golden in color. Drain on kitchen towel and serve immediately.
Take a lovely soup plate and spoon some of the tomato sauce in the base of it. Place two or three risotto balls in the  sauce and serve with a shaving of parmesan and a few grindings of black pepper.

The grande Formages for blogging

Last but certainly not the least, to everyone who made the 2011 Foodbloggers Indaba such a spectacular event, I salute and applaud you all. My co-host Sam from Drizzle and Dip, Jamie from Lifes a feast, Jeanne from Cooksister, Jamie from Aficionado, Jane-Anne from Scrumptious South Africa, Michael Oliver, Abigail Donnely, Phillipa Cheifitz and all the other supporting presenters…..you were absolutely amazing! The belle of the ball was most delfinitely Colly Wolly who managed to pull a huge rabbit out of her hat and go beyond our wildest expectations. Colly, you are an amazing, amazing woman and if I could have an ounce of your dedication and drive, I would be so happy. Well done!