Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole, a dish your whole family will enjoy.
Italian rice balls, otherwise known as Arancini are one of my favorite appetizers, but I usually stay far away because they are deep fried and loaded with fat. If you've never tried them, they are balls of rice stuffed with chopped meat, peas and cheese, then breaded and fried, what's not to love?
This lightened up casserole is the genius of my friend Julia from Julia's Healthy Italian. I "skinnified" her recipe a bit to cut the points down, but she takes all the credit for the creativity of turning an otherwise very heavy meal and making it lighter. The servings are large and very satisfying. A simple green salad on the side is all you need to complete this.
This is probably a good weekend recipe to make since it requires some prepping, Julia usually makes double and freezes the second casserole to use later on. I halved her original, but it makes sense to make two for the same amount of work it takes to make one.
To make this quicker you can make the rice ahead of time as well as the sauce. I used my filetto di pomodoro recipe, but you can use your favorite sauce. I recommend either using the 93% lean turkey, I found the 99% lean turkey was too dry and the points remain the same.
Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole
Gina's Skinny Recipes
Servings: 8 • Serving Size: 1/8th • Old Points: 8 pts • Points+: 9 pts
Calories: 367.2 • Fat: 9.5 g • Carb: 46.8 g • Fiber: 2.0 g • Protein: 20.9 g
- 2 cups uncooked long grain rice
- 4 cups water
- 1 (2.5 oz) sweet Italian sausage link, casing removed
- 10 oz (.65 lbs) 93% lean ground turkey (1/2 package)
- 1/4 cup onion, minced
- salt and fresh pepper
- 5 oz frozen peas
- 16 oz homemade tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup egg beaters or egg whites
- 1/2 cup pecorino romano
- cooking spray
- 4 tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs, divided
- 1 1/4 cup shredded part skim mozzarella
Cook rice in water according to package directions. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, sauté sausage meat; cook until brown breaking up into pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Add turkey and onions and cook until browned, breaking up as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add peas and 8 oz tomato sauce and simmer on low, covered, about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl combine rice, pecorino romano, eggs, and 3-4 oz tomato sauce and mix well. Rice should be a bit sticky.
Spray a 9 x 12 casserole dish with cooking spray, making sure to spray sides too. Add 2 tbsp breadcrumbs to the dish and roll around to coat the bottom and sides.
Take half of the rice mixture (a little more if needed) and cover the bottom of the dish and up the sides; press to form the bottom layer.
Add the meat and peas.
Sprinkle mozzarella on top. Top with remaining rice and press until even. Top with remaining 4 oz of sauce, remaining 2 tbsp breadcrumbs, and remaining mozzarella.
Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 more minutes. Cut into 8 pieces.