What is Supplì? A rice ball containing succulent fillings that will satisfy any palate. And why this Viva l’Italia vegetarian Supplì?

Viva l’Italia vegetarian supplì for the SuppliTiamo contest

Those of you who have followed me over the years know of my rice-related adventures and especially of the Risate & Risotti event from which my first participation in a cookery competition started, the stages of which became the leitmotif of my book ‘Food bloggers in viaggio’ (read here some stories and recipes that were featured in the contest “Rice Food Blogger Contest Chef Giuseppina Carboni”).

Since the initiative could not be organised this year due to the Covid emergency, a very nice contest was launched called SuppliTiamo dedicated, as the name itself reveals, to Suppli and in which this recipe participates.

What are Supplì? Supplì are a kind of elongated rice ball, stuffed and fried just like the Sicilian Arancini. Its name comes from the French surprise because such is the feeling one gets from eating it: the suprise of the filling contained within its crunchy shell. Supplì is a rustic speciality, typical of Roman cuisine, that has been popular since its origins: what better solution could there be for the soldiers’ ration than to have a single dish in ‘pocket’ size?

While the original recipe called for a ragout prepared with chicken giblets, the seasonings have since become more and more creative, although a classic of Roman cuisine remains ‘Supplì al telefono‘ (meaning Supplì on the phone) prepared with mozzarella cheese inside and amusingly named so to describe the moment when it breaks in half to be eaten, forming a long, stringy mozzarella dripping that is reminiscent of the telephone sets before the advent of wireless devices.

My proposal

So here is my Supplì which I wanted to dedicate to our country to which, never more than now, we must show a sense of belonging and support. So my Supplì ‘Viva l’Italia’ wants to wish all of us who live in this country to find the positive energy we need in this moment of restart. And you know who I wanted to give it to? To my friend Lucia, companion of adventures and help in my cooking classes, the friend who made me find shopping bags right in front of this gate in the most difficult moments of our quarantine.

Il supplì regalato alla mia amica Lucia

The supplì given to my friend Lucia

I made my Supplì using a delicious tomato risotto (drawing inspiration from my Mediterranean Risottowith a few minor changes) which I cooked by doubling the amount so that I would have half to make 8 Supplì. The other change was the cooking: in order to avoid fried food, which in our house should be eaten in moderation, I cooked the supplì in the oven under the grill and they turned out delicious!!!!

I supplì al pomodoro farciti di pesto di rucola e formaggio filante

Tomato supplì stuffed with rocket pesto and stringy cheese

Viva l’Italia vegetarian supplì  

24.35g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for the risotto for 8 supplì

  • approx. 2 litres of previously prepared vegetable stock
  • 360g Vialone nano rice
  • 300g tomato sauce
  • 60g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 40g butter
  • 30g carrots
  • 30g leek
  • 20g extra virgin olive oil
  • 15g celery
  • 1 egg
  • salt, pepper, chilli

Ingredients for the stuffing

  • 240g buffalo Bergamino cheese (or any cheese melting easily)
  • 160g breadcrumbs** (20g per supplì)
  • 70g rocket
  • 50g almonds, peeled
  • 2 basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)


  1. Put the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan with the chopped leek, carrot and celery. Let the mince soften and brown, then add the tomato sauce, a pinch of salt and a ladle of stock; let it cook for about 15 minutes, then whisk to obtain an even sauce and set it aside.
  2. Start preparing the rice. Put a little oil in a pan and toast the rice on a high heat (it took me 3 minutes to get the grains well transparent with the white central part). Start adding the boiling stock. Continue stirring and add stock only when the rice is almost dry. After about 5 minutes, add the tomato sauce and continue to cook the risotto. When the rice is still al dente, turn off the heat and start stirring by adding the butter and grated Parmesan cheese and continue stirring until the rice is completely blended and creamy. Let the risotto cool down, then add the whole egg and mix thoroughly; let it cool down.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the rocket cream. Put a saucepan of water on the stove, add salt and bring to the boil; blanch the rocket for 30 seconds, drain it (retaining the cooking water) and throw it into ice water.
  4. Put the peeled almonds in a blender and blend them to a flour; add the drained rocket, 2 basil leaves, a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and blend to a cream, adding a tablespoon of cooking water from the rocket if necessary.
  5. Assemble the supplì. Lightly grease your hands with extra virgin olive oil, place a layer of tomato risotto on the palm and fingers of one hand, place a heaped teaspoon of rocket cream in the centre of the rice, spreading it over almost the entire length of the layer, and on top place two pieces of cheese, amounting to about 30g. Using lightly greased fingers, take more risotto to cover the supplì and form the cylinder, sealing it well. Coat it in breadcrumbs and place it on a perforated baking tray covered with baking paper. When you have finished all the rice (I made 8 supplì), put a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on the breaded surface and bake them in a preheated oven at 230°C under the grill for 10-15 minutes until they are perfectly golden.
  6. Serve them hot and… don’t eat too many!

Version with gluten of Viva l’Italia vegetarian supplì

The recipe contains only naturally gluten-free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten.