Which lentils are best for this vegan bolognese?
You can use green, brown, or red lentils to make this vegan bolognese sauce filling.
While green and brown lentils retain more their shape when cooked, red lentils can turn mushier. So it's up to your personal preference, the ragù sauce will be delicious in any case.
Using tinned lentils is a time-saver as you won't have to pre-soak them and they will cook much faster. We have used canned brown lentils in our recipe, but you can opt for the dry legumes if preferred.
To do so, follow our steps below:
Start with half the amount of dry lentils and place them in a bowl of water.
Leave them to soak at room temperature for at least 4 hours or even better overnight.
Then, drain and rinse them thoroughly and add them to the passata as we did in our recipe above.
Finally, increase the cooking time from 15 to 25 minutes and check that the lentils are soft and cooked through.
What can I use instead of egg wash for breading the arancini?
Many arancini recipes include dipping the rice balls in an eggwash before coating them with the breadcrumbs. In our recipe, we made a vegan alternative using flax seeds. Soaking ground flaxseeds in water yields a thick, gel-like mixture which is perfect as an egg replacement.
If you can't find flaxseeds, you can use chia seeds and water in the same proportions.
Alternatively, you can opt for a batter of plain flour and cold water. Use them in ratio 1:1.5, for example, 100ml (3.5 fl oz) of flour and 65g (2 oz) of flour. Whisk them together in a bowl to make a runny batter. Check out our vegan asparagus arancini recipe to see how we have made it.
How can I make rice balls gluten-free?
Making Italian arancini gluten-free is incredibly easy, all you have to do is replacing plain flour and breadcrumbs with gluten-free options.
Use store-bought gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs.
Swap flour and water in the breading batter with a flax-egg or chia-egg.
Use ground nuts and seeds to make DIY gluten-free breadcrumbs.
In our asparagus arancini, we have used cashews and black sesame seeds, while in these seafood rice balls, we made a combo of ground almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds.
How do you cook arancini balls?
Italian-style rice balls are traditionally deep-fried, but you can also bake them in the oven or air-fryer for a healthier, low-fat option.
Bread the arancini, arrange them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake them for at least 30 minutes at 220°C (430°F). There's no need to brush the rice balls with oil before baking them as the breadcrumbs will crisp up in the oven, giving you perfectly crunchy croquettes.
For the air-fryer option, position the prepared rice balls in the basket, leaving some space between them to allow even airflow. Then, set the air-fryer to the highest temperature (ours goes up to 200°C / 390°F) and cook them for 15 minutes.
Are Italian rice balls vegan?
Nowadays arancini come in countless varieties, but the most traditional filling is with bolognese sauce and peas. Ham and bechamel sauce or seafood stuffings are also very popular in Sicily, where these snacks originated.
Classic Italian rice balls are not vegan as they can include beef, pork, seafood, cheese, and butter.
However, you can easily make tasty vegan fillings for your rice balls with simple ingredients. Aubergines and chickpeas, cashew cream and asparagus, or tomato lentil sauce are all excellent plant-based combos you can try.