Food & Wine Pairing Recipe of the Week – Roasted Butternut and Blue Cheese Arancini

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We recently had the most delightful dinner in Wanaka at Urban Grind. One of their most popular entrees on the menu is their Blue Cheese Arancini balls. Italian risotto balls which ooze divine blue cheese with each bite. So delicious it was time to try my own version at home. These make the perfect canapés if you are having friends over for dinner and are simple to make. I have matched this with my favourite blue cheese, Whitestone Windsor Blue – creamy rich and simply stunning matched with in season butternut pumpkin.

Roasted Butternut and Blue Cheese Arancini

Food & Wine Pairing Recipe of the Week – Roasted Butternut and Blue Cheese Arancini

Roasted Butternut and Blue Cheese Arancini


Basic risotto

  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 1 small glass of white wine – Bald Hills Pinot Gris is perfect!
  • 1.5 pints of hot chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan

Roast Butternut (1/2)

  •  Two crushed garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp of crushed fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Whitestone Windsor Blue Cheese (1 wedge/75g)

Breadcrumb coating

  • 2 x free range eggs beaten
  • 2 cups of breadcrumbs


Firstly slice your butternut in half and scoop out all the seeds.

Cover in your herbs and a little olive oil and place in the oven, skin side down for 45 minutes at 180˚C (fan forced).

Once soft and slightly browned, remove from the oven and dice, discarding the skin.

While the Butternut is roasting you can make a start on your risotto.

Pour your olive oil into a large round saucepan. Fry the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes and then, when it’s nice and hot, add the rice and stir for a minute or so to ensure that the rice is coated well in all the hot oil and looking glossy. This is where it gets a little labour intensive.

Tip in the glass of white wine and stir for a few minutes more until it has all been absorbed by the rice and then keep adding the stock, slowly and a little at a time, stirring constantly as you pour, until the rice is cooked. This usually takes about 20-25 minutes and the rice should be soft on the outside but with a nice bite in the middle. Add your Parmesan cheese and the chopped squash and leave to cool.

Once the risotto mixture has cooled, take a large spoonful and form into small balls just smaller than the palm of your hand. Make an dent in the middle with your finger and then stuff in a piece of blue cheese. Reform the ball.

Roll each ball in beaten egg and fine breadcrumbs and place on a backing tray. In most recipes I found online the arancini are fried. I baked mine (as opting for a more healthier option) in the oven for 20 minutes at 180˚C (fan forced). Each one came out perfectly!

You could try many variations of flavours with this recipe – like Mushroom Risotto with Feta for example. Delish!

This recipe makes approximately 25 balls.


Wine Pairing – Bald Hills Pinot Gris 2010

Fresh aromas of apple and pear match perfectly with the rich and creamy flavours of the risotto. The flavour of the Butternut in this dish are intensified after each mouthful of this crisp white wine. The toffee finish of this wine leaves you reaching for the bottle!