It is with sadness that we say goodbye to our fifth SlowTrav food challenge -- Sunday Small Bites. It's been a lot of fun. I managed to keep up pretty well. I missed only one week out of 19 and I managed to create original or significantly customized recipes for all but two of the challenge ingredients. Best of all, I only had one that I would consider a failure.
For this 19th and final week, Kathy chose Chickpeas. Thanks Kathy, for choosing such a great ingredient!
As I contemplated what I might do with this week's ingredient, I determined that I wanted to avoid the obvious and not make hummus or some other form of dip or spread.
In my pantry, I found several cans of Rienzi Chick Peas, which in Italian are called Ceci. So, Italian it shall be for the theme of the recipe. Now, what to do. The pantry also held some fresh seasoned breadcrumbs. And in the fridge were both mild italian sausage and fresh mozzerella balls. I hit upon the idea of making arancini out of chick peas instead of risotto. Thus was born:
2 - links mild Italian sausage
1 1/2 - cups fresh Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 - cans ceci, drained and rinsed
2 - eggs
1 - four ounce ball fresh mozzarella
Additional bread crumbs for coating
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Pre-heat oven to 400 and put a wire rack on a cookie sheet to catch crumbs.
Remove casing from sausage, crumble and cook in a skillet. Drain off all fat. I only used two links because I intended that the sausage would be more of a flavoring that a main ingredient.
In a food processor, blend bread crumbs, cooked sausage, drained ceci, & eggs. You will end up with a mix that is the consistency of soft cookie dough.
Press mozzarella ball between layers of paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible and to flatten somewhat. Then cut into 24 equal sized pieces.
Scoop about a golf ball size portion of ceci mix into palm of hand and roll into a ball.
Poke a hole in ball, put one piece of mozzerella in hole and pinch dough back around it.
Roll between palms to seal and form into a smooth ball.
To avoid a doughiness you will be baking them. But, because the coating won't brown in the oven, you will need to deep fry them very briefly.
Roll in bread crumbs and place on wire rack. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven.
Heat oil in deep pan to just below smoking temp. Drop balls into oil and deep fry to a golden brown. Just a few minutes. Remove and drain. Serve warm with marinara sauce.
The texture inside is very similar to hush puppies. The flavor is very Italian with the sausage and the spices in the seasoned breadcrumbs. For our, Arancini Cici is a keeper.