These Baked Spinach and Pea Arancini bites are a finger-friendly afternoon snack. They have been baked rather than deep-fried to keep the fat content as low as possible. They contain spinach to increase the iron content. The flour traditionally used in deep frying flour has been removed to keep the recipe lighter. These are ideal for a children’s party snack or a healthy starter.

Serves:  12

Dietary: Suitable for vegetarians, nut-free, egg-free diets

Contains; gluten (wheat breadcrumbs), milk (cheese)

May Contain:  Celery (stock cubes), soya (breadcrumbs)

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes



½ medium onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup (200 g) arborio risotto rice, raw
2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock
1½ cups (375 ml) water
1 packet (300 g) baby spinach leaves
Sprinkle of pecorino cheese
1 cup (140g) breadcrumbs
1 cup (120 g) frozen peas



  1. Finely dice the onion.
  2. Heat the olive in a large deep-frying pan and add the onion. Sauté on a medium heat for 3 – 5 minutes until softened.
  3. Add the risotto rice and stir until coated in oil.
  4. Add the stock 100 ml at a time, stirring and allowing to simmer each time until the stock is absorbed.
  5. Add 100 ml of water at a time, allowing it to absorb as before. Before the final addition of water, add the peas and spinach and allow them to wilt. Then, stir in thoroughly and add the final amount of water.
  6. Cover the pan and allow it to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the risotto has a dense, creamy texture and minimal liquid.
  7. Add a sprinkle of pecorino cheese and stir in.
  8. Turn off the heat and leave the risotto with the lid open to cool slightly.
  9. Once the risotto is cool enough to touch, place breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl.
  10. Preheat the oven to 200 oC/180 oC Fan/400 oF/Gas Mark 6.
  11. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  12. Form ⅛ cup of risotto mixture into a small ball. Roll in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet and repeat until all the risotto is used up.
  13. Bake the arancini balls in the oven until golden brown – about 20 minutes.


This recipe has been donated by Ruby Turner, Student Dietitian at the University of Winchester.



Per 146 g serving

Calories: 124 kcal
Fat: 2.4 g
 of which saturates: 0.7 g
Carbohydrate: 20.0 g
 of which sugars: 1.9 g
Fibre: 1.7 g
Protein: 4.2 g
Salt: 0.46 g



  • 100g of this recipe (about 4 arancini) is a good source of iron for 4 – 6 year old children. Iron contributes to normal cognitive function and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
  • These Baked Spinach and Peas Arancini are high in protein and folate. They are low in fat, saturated fat and sugar.
  • Vegetarian: This recipe is suitable for vegetarians as it contains no meat or animal-derived ingredients.
  • Vegan: This recipe can be made vegan by omitting the pecorino cheese or substituting it with a plant-based alternative. Also, ensure the vegetable stock is vegan.
  • Gluten-Free: gluten-free breadcrumbs can be used as a substitute to make the recipe gluten-free.
  • Lactose Intolerance: If lactose intolerant, individuals may need to omit the pecorino cheese or use a lactose-free cheese alternative.
  • Nut Allergies: This recipe does not contain nuts, but individuals with nut allergies should ensure that all ingredients are produced in nut-free facilities to avoid cross-contamination



  • Try different vegetable combinations, such as asparagus, carrots or swede.
  • Add natural yoghurt or ricotta cheese to the risotto to increase the calcium content.
  • Add dried herbs to the breadcrumb mixture for a sophisticated party starter.
  • Use chickpeas instead of green peas to increase protein content.


Consumer Tested by Alice Culinane, Nutrition Student at Atlantic Technological University

Checked by Kathy Lewis, R.Nutr., Registered Nutritionist


© 2023 The Caroline Walker Trust