A superfino classified rice, named after the nearby commune of Arborio in the province of Vercelli, this rice cultivar is the most well known Italian rice in the world.
The rice kernels are shorter than Carnaroli, with a burnished uniform opaque creamy color and a solid white center. Arborio has a high starch content that is released slowly in the cooking process, creating a lush blanket of creamy starch that coats each kernel. Commonly used in classic dishes such as Ristotto alla Milanese or even Rice Pudding.
To pre-cook the rice: Bring salted water to a boil. Add rice to the boiling water, and cook until al dente, approximately 12 minutes. Drain rice, and spread lightly with your fingers on a baking sheet to cool (this helps it retain its al dente texture). Allow to cool.
To prepare the dish: In a large bowl combine cooked rice, mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil leaves. Pour olive oil over the mixture and stir to distribute evenly. Stir in cracked pepper and salt to taste.