Food as Art | Asparagus Arancini with Basil Hazelnut Pesto

IMG_1571These days, part of the fun of eating something is photographing it so you can show it off later to your friends and Instagram followers. I have spent hours looking through my own social media feeds, getting hungrier as the minutes fly by because I am mainly concerned with the culinary affairs of the world. Some of my favorites include: Food52, Bon Appetit, Joy the Baker and The Kitchn.

As the food as art trends continues to grow more prevalent across the restaurant industry and dining scene, the proponents and opponents are becoming more divided. From a chef’s standpoint, his or her food is meant to be eaten as soon as it hits table. There are many factors that are at play when presenting a well thought at dish, such as flavors, textures and temperatures. The longer someone waits to eat the dish because they are fiddling around with filters, the less likely the chef’s vision for the dish will be delivered.

On the other side of the argument, a photo can preserve a memory of a great meal just eaten. It can be shared with fellow food lovers and serve as inspiration for the future. A photo can go viral and catapult an unknown chef into the spotlight over the course of just one day.

Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, you cannot deny the growing importance of food presentation. The Bio n’ Chic Sugar Cane collection is the ideal canvas to create food masterpieces. The stylish white plates come in several different shapes and sizes. They are equally practical as they are beautiful – the plates are grease resistant, microwavable, compostable and study.

The rectangular sugarcane plate make a great holder for the arancini and pesto featured this week. Arancini is an improved upon version of a dish that already seemed perfect – risotto. It’s a great bite of food for any event or a party. It can get a little dangerous when you start hitting the double digits of arancini consumption, but to me, that just signifies a successful plate of food.

Have you created any unforgettable dishes using our tableware products? Let us know in the comments!

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Asparagus Arancini with Basil and Hazelnut Pesto

Makes 20

For the Risotto:

  • 4 cups Vegetable Stock
  • 10 medium asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp Olive OIl
  • ½ cup leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp thyme, finely chopped
  • 1.5 cups arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup Parmesan, shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a bowl, prepare an ice bath and set aside. Bring a small pot to boil with 2 cups of water. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp and tender (about 3 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to the ice bath.  Remove the asparagus and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the leeks and the thyme and cook until leeks are softened but not colored – about 2 minutes.
  3. Add rice and cook, stirring until the rice is evenly coated in oil and lightly toasted but not browned. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed – about 1 minute.
  4. Add ½ cup of stock and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the broth, ½ cup at a time until the rice is tender and creamy – about 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Once the rice reaches the desired texture, mix in the asparagus and fold in the Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Spread out the finished risotto on a baking sheet and let cool.

For the Arancini:

  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup panko
  • ¼ cup hazelnuts, pulsed finely
  • 100 grams fontina cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup canola oil
  1. Pour the canola oil in a large heavy sauce pan. Heat the oil until it reaches 350 F.
  2. Place three medium bowls next to one another. Place the flour in one bowl. Place the beaten egg in a bowl next to the flour and finally mix together the bread crumbs, panko and hazelnuts in the last bowl.
  3. Using wet hands, shaped one tablespoon of the risotto into a ball. Press your thumb into the center to make an indent. Place a piece of the fontina in the indent, then mound the rice around the cheese to enclose. Repeat with the remaining rice.
  4. One by one, roll the balls in flour and shake off the excess. Dip the balls evenly in the beaten eggs and finely coat in the breadcrumb mixture.
  5. Fry the arancini, only 3 or 4 at a time, making sure not to crowd the sauce pan. Fry for 5-6 minutes until golden brown, turning several times. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Drain on a paper towel.

For the Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Put the basil and the hazelnuts into a food processor and pulse until fully combined. Once combined, add in the garlic and the cheese and continue to pulse several more times.
  2. With the food processor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream until the pesto is emulsified. Stir in the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

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