Herb, Eggplant & Chickpea Arancini (Vegetarian)

November 30, 2022

These oven-baked Arancini are a healthier take on a traditional Italian fave. Enjoy them warm or cold they are great for gatherings indoor or out, and can be made well ahead of time. For vegans sub the parmesan for 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast.

This recipe makes 10 Arancini 


The Rice Balls

1 tbsp olive oil plus extra for baking

1 tbsp plant-based Nuttelex

300g arborio rice

1/2 medium onion finely diced

1g saffron steeped in 1 tablespoon hot water

1 1/2 tbsp vegetable stock mixed into 600ml boiling water

1/4 tsp black pepper

50g parmesan, grated finely

The Filling

1 large garlic clove, crushed

200g eggplant, diced small

120g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

100g canned, diced tomatoes

zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 tsp paprika

1 tbsp fresh basil leaves

1 tbsp fresh parsley leaves

The Batter

80g plain flour

130ml iced water (add a couple of ice cubes)

The Crumb Coating

120g breadcrumbs

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

The Tools


measuring cup


baking paper

medium saucepan

food prep gloves (optional)

3 bowls

lined baking tray

Serve With

plain yoghurt or tomato relish

extra parmesan and freshly torn basil leaves


1Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan forced oven.

2Melt together 1/2 tablespoon Nuttelex with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, then add the finely diced onions. Fry until clear and then stir in the arborio rice.

3Ladle the hot vegetable stock into the rice, one ladle at a time- ensuring the stock is almost fully absorbed before adding the next. Once rice is cooked stir through the pepper, saffron & grated parmesan.

4Remove rice from heat and spoon out flat onto a baking tray. Let this cool then cover with cling film and place in fridge while you prepare arancini filling.

5In a frypan on medium heat, melt the remaining Nuttelex and olive oil together, and then add the garlic, followed by the diced eggplant, tomatoes and chickpeas. Cook for 10 minutes then stir in the freshly chopped herbs, paprika, salt & lemon zest. Remove from heat and allow to cool in a bowl.

6Gather the rice tray & the cooled filling and pop on your food prep gloves. Scoop 40-50g of the cooked rice portion into your hand, flatten, & then add a tablespoon of filling to middle. Then seal by working it into a ball wrapping the rice around the filling (refer to picture). Roll up all the balls until there is no mixture left.

7Prepare two bowls, one with the iced batter mixture and the second with the seasoned crumb.

8Dip each rice ball into the iced batter then roll gently in the crumb mix to coat. Place the arancini balls onto a lined tray. Brush the balls with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes.