Recipe | Zucchini Arancini

Nostrana means homegrown, ours; growing food with the intent of sharing it with others. Bri DiMattina’s book, Nostrana, sets out to rekindle the joy of the home garden and kitchen. Growing your own, creating in the kitchen and sharing with others.

Organised seasonally, and with growing guides for each ingredient, this cookbook shares simple and delicious recipes with fresh vegetables and fruits you can easily grow and harvest yourself. The Stromboli-inspired recipes in Nostrana include: zucchini arancini (recipe below), polenta & corn fritters, tomato sauce and a divine lemon-chocolate pizza dolce tart.

— Read the full interview about Bri’s garden and life of seasonal cooking here.

Words by Bri DiMattina, Nostrana

Zucchini Arancini

Arancini are usually made with rice, often from leftover risotto. They have a delectable filling, such as cheese, truffle or ragu and are rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. A lot of Italian cooking represents this style of using up everything, and is the spirit of this dish. If you, like me, are seduced into planting lots of zucchini, unsurprisingly you will have lots of zucchini to use up, so this is for you.

Arancini are Sicilian and southern Italian, and a similar recipe in Rome is called suppli. There are many variations and other names as you travel through Italy, but I think this one, made purely from grated zucchini, is a uniquely New Zealand garden version.

Also try: Polenta & Corn Fritters — Recipe by Bri DiMattina

Recipe | Zucchini Arancini



3 zucchini, grated

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Small handful of parsley,

finely chopped

Thyme leaves, to taste

1 tsp cracked black pepper

2 eggs

1/2 cup (40g) finely grated pecorino

1/2 cup (100g) fine dry breadcrumbs, plus more, to coat

100g mozzarella, cut into 1cm cubes

Vegetable oil, to deep-fry


Place the grated zucchini into a clean tea towel and wring out over the sink, to remove excess liquid. Place zucchini into a large bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Gently cook the onion and garlic until translucent, then add to the zucchini.

Add the parsley, thyme, pepper, eggs, pecorino and breadcrumbs. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. If the mixture seems too wet add some more breadcrumbs, though it should be fairly moist.

Take a small handful of the mixture and flatten a little in the palm of your hand. Place a cube of mozzarella in the centre, then enclose with the zucchini mixture and shape into a ball. Roll in the fine breadcrumbs to thoroughly coat.

Half fill a large saucepan with vegetable oil and heat over medium high heat. Deep-fry arancini in batches until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.

NOTE: You can make these in big batches and freeze them after crumbing. They make a great lunch snack in the middle of winter

Bri DiMattina is a second-generation Italian-Kiwi, a home gardener and trained chef who inherited her love of good food from her chef mother and her Italian nonna. After a career in the food industry, Bri moved to Mangere Bridge (Auckland). There she began growing a ‘food forest’ using permaculture principles, finding joy in harvesting and cooking homegrown produce.

Recipe extracted from Nostrana: Flavours from my Italian kitchen garden by Bri DiMattina

(Photography by Lottie Hedley, published by HarperCollins, RRP $55)

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