Main Meals

Saffron & Chickpea Cream Risotto / Air Fried Arancini

Saffron & Chickpea Arancini
Prep in
20 minutes (+ 12 minutes for aranchini)
Cooks in
20 minutes (+ 12 minutes for aranchini)

2 recipes in 1?! Yep we are getting ever more generous over here it seems. Well sort of in the sense the 2nd recipe was born out of the leftovers of the 1st, because we don’t know about you but as divine as risotto is, we often find it isn’t something we can/a to eat in the same format for multiple meals.

But food waste is an insult to the world & to those who aren’t as fortunate to be well fed, so we pop on our creative hats, fling things into a bowl, & hey presto risotto becomes arancini – crisp on the outside, sumptuously soft & silky on the inside, & we all waft away any thoughts of wastage.

You’ll note these utilise an air fryer, but do not fear if you don’t have such a piece of kit it is possible to make them in the oven with a few tweaks, see notes at the end of the recipe for details.

Key Facts

  • Plant-Powered
  • Dairy Free
  • Family Friendly
  • Zero Waste


  • 1 white onion/leek, or 2 shallots
  • 1 large stick of celery
  • 1 courgette
  • 200g arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas in water
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 1.5 litres bone/veggie broth, or we use 1 teaspoon of the Planet Paleo bone broth powder dissolved in hot water

For the arancini

  • 1 heaped teaspoon psyllium husk powder per leftover cup of rice



Finely dice your onion/leek/shallots, celery & courgette. You want these to disappear into your rice so the smaller the better.


Add to a large pan with a splash of water, a pinch of salt & a few grinds of black pepper. Cover with a lid & gently soften on a medium flame for 4-6 minutes, stirring once or twice. You don’t want to colour the veg.


Add your rice, stir well & let this start to absorb some of the liquid & flavour from those veggies. Let it almost toast for a few minutes (but not brown – low flame).


Then add 2 cups of liquid – you want this to be warm,  & bring to a gently simmer. Add the saffron, mix well for about 10 rounds, then leave to simmer & absorb the liquid.


Meanwhile add your saffron to a bowl + ½ cup warm water & leave to steep for 5 minutes. Drain & rinse your chickpeas, add to a blender with the lemon juice & blitz until smooth. Then blend in the saffron water.


Meanwhile add your saffron to a bowl + ½ cup warm water & leave to steep for 5 minutes. Drain & rinse your chickpeas, add to a blender with the lemon juice & blitz until smooth. Then blend in the saffron water.


Keep adding your liquid to the rice, stirring briskly & then letting it simmer. I find that as long as you ‘introduce’ the new liquid with a few good stirs you don’t have to keep constantly mixing your rice. You may not need all of the liquid, or you may need a splash more but you want to be able to squeeze the grains between your fingers & them to give but not be mushy, then you know they’re ready. At this stage fold through ¾ of the chickpea cream. Taste, adjust the seasoning & if you want to add the rest of the chickpea cream do so, or reserve it to use as a dip/dressing.


Serve & enjoy!


Any leftovers then go into the fridge for at least 24 hours to go totally cold, if you just want to make the arancini straight away then spread the risotto out onto a large tray to cool & refrigerate once cold. Add to a bowl with the psyllium husk, mix & leave to sit for 10 minutes, at this stage you should be able to pull off tablespoon sized portions, roll them without the rice sticking to your hands & air fry for 20 minutes at 210ºC.


*If you want to oven bake these you will need a baking tray with a wire rack on top, I would also suggest rolling the balls in some seasoned ground almonds or breadcrumbs to help create a crust. Flattening them into little cakes rather than balls will also help them crisp better. Bake for 20 minutes at 200C in the upper part of the oven.











About me

Phoebe Liebling (BSc, DipNT) is a highly respected clinician & award winning product & recipe developer based in Harley Street.

Phoebe holding a tray of roasted vegetables