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September 27, 2018

Another Basically Free Meal, Courtesy of Leftovers and Stale Bread

Not quite sure how this happened, but my passion in life is making new food out of leftovers, and reimagining food scraps destined for the compost heap or the trash. Now that you have that lovely visual, let’s talk about arancini! Also known as tasty rice balls!

These are the foods you’ll need to save instead of throwing them away.:

Stale bread.
Don’t throw that away! If you can’t revive it, make bread crumbs. Dry the bread in the oven on low, then give it a whirl in the food processor or put it in a zippered plastic bag and pound it with a rolling pin. Voilà! You just made free bread crumbs. Keep them in a container in the freezer and add to them whenever you have stale bread. (You want to add a few potato chip crumbs? I support that.)

Mark the container with the year and use them up by the end of that year, because if you never fully empty the container, you could end up with 40 year old bread crumbs. That’s kind of gross, even for me.

Leftover risotto. Or paella. Or any rice dish.
Don’t put that in the trash! Save it in a container and I’ll tell you what to do with it in a minute. Any kid of sticky or creamy rice dish will do.

Or plain rice.
If you just have plain rice, I have trick for that, too. Add stuff to it, like cheese, vegetables, leftover pasta sauce, or chicken stock. Then you’ll have a rice dish, which may result in leftovers. Keep them!

The last bit of pasta sauce
Don’t pour it down the drain! Let’s say you have a rice dish, but it isn’t the right consistency to roll into balls. Mix it with the pasta sauce until it’s softer and creamy, like risotto.

Now it’s time to make arancini!
First of all, I don’t know how many times I made these before I knew the Italians call them arancini, so if you want to go with “leftover rice balls,” that works for me. They aren’t glamorous, but they’re delicious and easy. And if you save your leftovers right, they’re basically free!

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
  2. Start with mise en place. You’ll need a plate of bread crumbs, a bowl with egg and mayonnaise (about 1 tablespoon mayonnaise per egg) whisked together, your leftover rice dish, and a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.
  3. Make a ball of rice with your hands, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter.
  4. Dip the ball in the egg and mayonnaise mixture, roll it through the bread crumbs, and place in casserole dish.
  5. Repeat, leaving about a half inch between the balls.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until arancini are heated through.
  7. Serve with additional marinara sauce for dipping or just eat them!


We Goodwill shoppers are a thrifty bunch, and I know you hate to throw things away as much as I do. You can do a lot with a tight food budget and a little creativity!


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