Tim Slater’s Arancini and Greenhouse Pesto

This canapé pays homage to Ballymaloe's six-week Herb and Salad exam using the ingredients fresh from the glasshouse to make a tasty pesto to top the arancini made from the Ballymaloe Cookery School Risotto ala Parmigiana. It makes an excellent late autumn pesto to use when the basil is no longer available and an interesting alternative to basil pesto. The rice dishes of the Veneto region are famous. Rice was introduced there by the Arabs and many varieties of short-grain rice still grow in the marsh lands around the river Po. In Venice, risotto is made almost liquid, its great quality is its immense versatility. The Veneto is richer in vegetables than any other area in Italy so all sorts of vegetables and combinations of vegetables are included in the dish as well as herbs, poultry, game, chicken livers or shellfish. There is even a risotto made with squid ink and another with pine kernels and raisins which is actually a legacy of the Arabs. The previous day, make the Ballymaloe Cookery School Risotto ala parmigiana and, once cooked, spread thinly onto a baking tray and chill overnight, or use leftover risotto. The following day make the Glasshouse Pesto and the Arancini.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Resting Time1 day
Total Time1 day 1 hour 20 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian



  • 1-1.3 l broth or homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 25 g butter
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 400 g Carnaroli or Arboria rice
  • 25 g butter
  • 50 g freshly grated Parmesan
  • sea salt

Glasshouse Pesto

  • 30 g Rocket leaves
  • 20 g Coriander leaves and fine stalks
  • 10 g Chives
  • 50 g Parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 50 g Lightly toasted cashew nuts chopped
  • 125-175 ml Extra virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Seasoned flour
  • Whisked egg
  • Fine breadcrumbs



  • First bring the broth or stock to the boil, turn down the heat and keep it simmering.
  • Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan with the oil, add the onion and sweat over a gentle heat for 4-5 minutes, until soft but not coloured.
  • Add the rice and stir until well coated.
  • Cook for a minute or so and then add 150ml of the simmering broth, stir continuously and as soon as the liquid is absorbed add another 150ml of broth.
  • Continue to cook, stirring continuously.
  • The heat should be brisk, but on the other hand if it’s too hot the rice will be soft outside but still chewy inside. If it’s too slow, the rice will be gluey. It’s difficult to know which is worse, so the trick is to regulate the heat so that the rice bubbles continuously. The risotto should take about 25-30 minutes to cook.
  • When it is cooking for about 20 minutes, add the broth about 4tbsp at a time. I use a small ladle.
  • Watch it very carefully from there on. The risotto is done when the rice is cooked but is still ever so slightly 'al dente'.
  • It should be soft and creamy and quite loose, rather than thick. The moment you are happy with the texture, stir in the remaining butter and Parmesan cheese, taste and add more salt if necessary.

Greenhouse Pesto

  • Toast the cashew nuts in a moderate oven, 180°C, until lightly golden (around 10mins). Allow to cool.
  • Finely grate the Parmesan and set aside.
  • Put the rocket, coriander, chives, garlic, chopped roasted cashew nuts and 125g of extra virgin olive oil into a food processor and blitz to a fine paste. Add more olive oil if the mixture is dry.
  • Fold in the Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp of lemon juice.
  • Season with sea salt, pepper and additional lemon juice as required.
  • Add further extra virgin olive oil, if needed to get the correct consistency. The pesto will need to sit on top of the arancini so shouldn’t be too runny.

Next shape the arancini balls.

  • Take 15g of the cooled risotto and shape into a walnut sized ball.
  • Slightly flatten the ball (to create a flat surface for the pesto to sit).
  • Coat in flour then beaten egg (shaking off the excess) and finally the breadcrumbs.
  • Ensure that the arancini are well covered in the breadcrumbs (do not be tempted to double pane as the crumb will be too thick).
  • Deep fry the arancini in vegetable or olive oil at 170°C for approximately 3 minutes until golden brown.
  • Drain excess oil and top each one with a little blob of pesto.
  • Allow to cool slightly before serving.