Beetroot Arancini, Chestnut Humus, Hazelnuts

Jess - Aranchini 1
Jess - Aranchini 4


s hard as it is to admit, the long balmy evenings are getting darker and shorter and noticeably less balmy. Autumn is whistling in the air and the wind if whipping the leaves around my now boot clad and sock warmed feet. I adore summer more than you can imagine and I’m always reluctant and depressed to let it go but the potential of Autumn and its bountiful harvest are just too exciting for a foodie like myself and one of the many reasons I adore the English seasons. Pears, plums, apples, pumpkins, game, beetroot and cobnuts. I get far to excited, overwhelmed and overjoyed at the inspiration for Autumnal dinners. A little recipe testing this weekend creating some new dishes in preparation for an Autumnal dinner party I have approaching was the cause for this one.

I’m not normally a huge believer in the arancini concept as generally most things taste good deep fried. I do adore them though – oozing with cheese or glamourised with truffle oil and mushrooms. However, I always wonder if they are more delicious and successful than the risotto itself? For me they are usually an after thought for any leftover risotto you might (surprisingly and hard to image) have as leftovers. But I’ve always admired anyone who makes risotto with the intention of just making arancini. That said I make double the batch and devoured the liquid form for dinner and the deep-fried leftovers the night after.

These subtly spiced, earthy, warm, crispy oozing arancini are the perfect start to the season. Creamy, deeply flavoured whipped chestnut humus and nutty toasted hazelnuts are the perfect addition. All cleanly cut through with some fresh, sharp and zesty lemony rocket and a hearty spiced glass of Pinot Noir. Lets welcome Autumn in style.

NOTE: I would highly suggest making the arancini in the morning before a dinner but ideally overnight. Ensure you have made the humus and garnish beforehand so that arancini are the last thing to cook and are hot, crispy and freshly served immediately.

Serves 6

Beetroot Arancini – try and make the evening before if you can

  • 120g pearl barely
  • 1 pint hot chicken stock
  • 125ml red wine
  • 1 small red onion, chopped finely
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly ground
  • 200g cooked beetroot, pureed in a food processor
  • Large handful finely grated parmesan
  • 1 knob butter
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 egg
  • Plain flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Sunflower oil for deep frying
  1. Heat half a knob of butter with a small splash of oil in a saucepan. Very gently sweat the red onion in the butter for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cumin cook for a few more minutes. Season
  2. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the pearl barely. Toast in the pan with the onion stirring all the time. Next add the wine and simmer off until reduced.
  3. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, adding more only after each addition has been absorbed. Continue for about 25minutes or so until the pearl barley is tender. Keep adding stock until the barley is cooked but don’t drown the mixture especially towards the end of the cooking time or it will be too runny.
  4. When the barley is cooked, stir through the beetroot puree and taste and season again. Bring back up to the heat to warm through.
  5. Add the grated cheese, another knob of butter and a generous squeeze of lemon juice and remove form the heat. Place the lid on top and leave it sit and rest.
  6. Stir to combine the cheese. Leave to cook until cold in the fridge, ideally overnight.
  7. When cold and almost solid, its time to make the arancini.
  8. Get 3 bowls ready with the beaten egg, a handful or two of flour and the breadcrumbs
  9. Divide the risotto into 6 or so large spoonfuls and form into balls just a bit larger than a golf ball.
  10. Roll in the flour, the beaten egg and finally give a good coating in the breadcrumbs. Set aside on a plate.
  11. Heat a large pan of oil at lease deep enough to come up half the side of the arancini (8cm or so). Heat to a medium high heat on the hob. Test the temperature with a piece of dry bread. If it sizzles and turns golden its ready!
  12. Get a few sheets of kitchen roll and use them to line a shallow bowl or plate.
  13. Add the arancini, 3 or so at a time depending on the size of your pan. Fry, turning half way one the underside is a light golden brown.
  14. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the kitchen paper.
  15. Serve immediately as below.

Chestnut Humus

  • 200g vacuum packed chestnuts
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Knob butter
  • Olive oil
  1. Place the chestnuts in a saucepan with just enough water to cover, the butter and some salt.
  2. Bring to the simmer and cook for about 3-4 minutes to soften the chestnuts.
  3. Drain, reserving the liquid.
  4. Place in the bowl of a food processor with some seasoning and blend. Add a splash or two of the reserved water to loosen and blend until beginning to smooth. Keep adding the water until the mixture is smooth but still thick. Add the lemon juice and then thin to the desired consistency with the oil.
  5. Check the seasoning.


  • Couple of large handfuls of brown breadcrumbs
  • Handful of hazelnuts, roasted, halved
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  1. Heat a splash of oil in a hot frying pan. Add the breadcrumbs and fry until beginning to turn golden. Season and add the roasted hazelnuts and fry for a few more moments.
  2. Turn the heat down a little and add the parsley to wilt and crisp.
  3. Remove from the what and allow to cool slightly.

To assemble…

  • Spoon a large tablespoon of so of chestnut puree onto the plate
  • Top with some rocket leaves dressed in lemon juice
  • Top with the hot arancini
  • Scatter over the crunchy crumbs
  • Devour

WINE: I hugely recommend something with a little spice to it to complement the cumin here. The earthy beetroot is a lovely match for a lovely Pinot Noir. Try this Paper Road Pinot Noir from Borthwick Estate available at Armit Wines.


Jess - Aranchini 5Jess - Pinot Noir