Feb 24, 2011

Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole




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.

166 comments :

  1. This dish looks amazing! I cannot wait to try it. Rice balls were a fun treat that my great aunt used to make for us. Just thinking of them makes me nostalgic for her.

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  2. OMG It looks so good. I might have to try this one this weekend for sure. I wonder if I use turkey italian sausage would that be ok?

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    1. I'm using the italian turkey sausage, too. I will let you know!

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    2. Sure, whatever is available near you

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  3. Oh my goodness! My mother has made this my whole life (not the skinny kind), and we call it "the Rice Dish"! I cannot wait to share your version with her!

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  4. The pork sausage gives this nice flavor, but sure, use turkey if you don't eat pork. Points remain the same.

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  5. This looks so good! I can't wait to try it, but I cannot eat sausage - do you have another suggestion that I could use in place of the sausage? Thanks for your blog - I always pass on your link when I bring in leftovers from the night before to work!

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    Replies
    1. use turkey sausage?

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    2. Add some fennel seeds for the sausage flavor without the fat

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  6. This looks delicious - do you think that it would be as tasty substituting diced green bell pepper? I am not the biggest fan of peas so I am trying to think of an alternative. Thoughts?

    Pasta Fagioli for dinner tonight!! :-)

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  7. I think sauteed mushrooms would be wonderful instead of peas and maybe even instead of sausage, maybe with a touch of sauteed garlic!

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  8. Oh myyyyyyyyyyy...I'm SO excited to make this! I'm on a roadtrip, right now...but when I get home, this is GONNA happen!

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  9. Oh C, isn't that funny. I was thinking the same thing. I hate peas, but love how this recipe looks. I was thinking the peas are added more for color than flavor, so maybe any other green vegetable like chopped broccoli or green pepper can be used.

    Ann

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    Replies
    1. I am thinking asparagus in place of the peas that I hate.

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  10. What if we used brown rice? Would that work, and what would the points be instead?

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  11. This is a fantastic idea! My Gram makes Arancini all the time...the deep fried kind! This would be a delicious alternative!

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  12. How fun. At first I thought rice balls!?! But I love arancini and I especially enjoy how you reinvented it as a casserole. Smart!

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  13. I love arancini, and this seems like such a great way to have something similar, but much more healthy. Looks delicious!

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  14. Looks absolutely magnificent! Bravo! Blessings, Catherine

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  15. I wonder how this would be with veggie burger crumbles instead of the turkey and some soysauge? I think it would work okay. Might help the points too. I'm also thinking it would be worth the Arborio rice. Yum!

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  16. Thank you. This is amazing and I am so excited to make this. I have been looking for a "healthier" version of this.

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  17. This sounds crazy but I was just thinking about how much I love arancini and would like a light version.

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  18. Sarah Leigh2/24/11, 9:49 PM

    Just curious, I wonder how different the points would be if you didnt add the 2nd layer of rice and instead just topped it as you would originally with the sauce and cheese.

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  19. Sounds great, Gina - many thanks!!

    Happy experimenting, Ann :)

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  20. I can't believe how good this looks!

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  21. Ohhhhh man that sounds/looks amazing.

    I think I know what our weekend is going to taste like!

    -Karinya @ Unlikely Origins
    www.unlikelyorigins.blogspot.com

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  22. Sarah, it wouldn't be as filling. Honestly, you could probably get more than 8 serving out of this, but I rather show more than less.

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  23. This recipe looks awesome. My family love arancini, but they are a lot of work. This seems simpler and healthier. Thanks!

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  24. jen lepley-callan2/25/11, 9:22 AM

    I loved Arancini in Sicly! I would go to Catania and get them every weekend!! I am so excited to make this recipe!! YAY! Thank you!

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  25. Yay for you and your awesome recipes! I've shared your site with several people, and everything I've made here is deeeeeee-licious!

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  26. This is definitely one of those recipes that I never would have thought could be "skinified". Looks delicious!

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  27. This looks sooo good! Do you think it would work if I substituted Quinoa for the rice? How would that affect points? Thanks :)

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  28. *drools* I will be making this for dinner Sunday night!

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  29. This looks SO good!! I am adding this to my menu next week!

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  30. Looks amazing. think it will be my first Skinnytaste recipe.

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  31. I am making this right now for my Birthday appetizer!!

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  32. To those of you asking about brown rice instead, if I were going to use brown, I would probably use a short grain brown rice. The rice should be sticky so keep that in mind. Arborio would work too, but white rice is easier.

    I don't think quinoa would be sticky enough here, maybe a white rice, quinoa blend.

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  33. Do you think I would be able to make rice in my rice cooker for this recipe? Or would that rice be too sticky for this recipe? It would make this recipe so much easier since I can never cook rice perfectly on the stove!

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  34. WOW this recipe looks amazing! I am new to cooking and weight watchers so I am really glad I found your blog!

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  35. I am also a long time lurker. Have made many of your recipes and am such a fan. I am baking this casserole right now as I write this (at the 20 minutes covered stage). This was definitely a labour of love but I am so excited about the end result.

    Thank you thank you thank you for this healthy version of one of my favourite Italian dishes.

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  36. I made this for dinner tonight and it was another HUGE hit!! Thank you so much for sharing all of your awesome, healthy recipes!!

    I did use long grain brown rice and I loved it! I don't eat white rice anymore. I also substituted corn for the peas (I hate peas).

    My only question is how do you keep the cheese from sticking to the tin foil? Lol! I lost half the cheese taking off the foil.

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    1. spray the foil with vegtable spray!

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  37. A rice cooker would work fine, as long as it's a bit on the sticky side.

    Veronica, yes this is a bit of work, much easier if you have the sauce and rice ready.

    Wendy, I'm so happy it tasted great with brown rice! When you cover with foil, it shouldn't touch the cheese, I had plenty of room for it not to touch.

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  38. Having lived in Italy, you guys are killing me with your "Can I use broccoli and quinoa?" comments. These are rice balls we're talking about!! lol They have a certain flavor. But still, I need to recognize that food is ever evolving, and it might still be delicious, just different. But please don't call it "Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole" if you substitute other stuff. That would just be wrong.

    Anyway, I made it and loved it!!! My only suggestion would be to salt the rice mixture a bit before pressing it into the pan. Oh, and don't use foil at all.

    For tomato sauce, I simmered an onion and some garlic cloves in crushed tomatoes and a little olive oil for about an hour (enough time to make and cool the rice). This is a Marcella Hazan way of doing tomato sauce, and it's not quite as nuanced as the type with vegetables simmered in it, but still very delicious.

    Thank you sincerely for this recipe. It made my week! I miss this flavor, and even though it's not quite the same as having a true deep-fried rice ball, it was still fabulous. THANK YOU!

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    1. I so agree. The point is to have a healthy version of Arancini.

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    2. I'm half Italian and lived in Italy 17 years.Yep cannot call this arancini if you use anything other than the ingridients listed,although we use ground beef and not sausage I will make it just as listed. Gina also I have baked the original arancini before instead of frying

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    3. my family has made these for years...but we never tried baking them..i'll have to try that sometime...this also is a lot easier than making arancini...no forming and dipping...much less time consuming...

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  39. Oh, and I used my rice cooker. It was perfect.

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  40. Gina,
    Thank you again for a tremendously delicious recipe. I will have leftovers for the week too ! I did us chicken sausage and it was delicious. I will try it with pork next time but I bought chicken and fresh mozzerella which was difficult to grate but worth the flavor. I love peas in casseroles and the flavor was fabulous. I try to make at least one of your recipes every week and I have lost 33 lbs! Still want to drop another 30 to my goal so onward I go. You are helping to keep me on track to my goal!
    Nancy

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  41. Made this for dinner tonight, it was so YUMMY!! Keep these delicious recipes coming!! I recommended Gina's to all my friends and we love it!!

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  42. your recipe is made and on deck for later tonight...can't wait to try it....thanks again...I like adding a link to your blog every now and then on my facebook page to recommend it to others. I also post what I have made on my blog with a link back to your page.

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  43. Elizabeth, thanks for the chuckle! I agree, it needs the peas and rice to make this a sicilian rice ball, otherwise it's just a rice or quinoa casserole. And I've used her technique for sauce, she also adds butter... it's yummy.

    Just to point out, I don't eat peas. You will never see me just eat a side of peas, but they are subtle when cooked with the meat and sauce. So just go for it!

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  44. I have a question about how much of the ground turkey to use....you wrote 10oz and then say to use half the package...so are you really using 5 oz? thanks!

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  45. Kathleen, the turkey I buy comes in a 20 oz package so I used half. (10 oz)

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  46. We made this recipe tonight with chicken sausage instead of pork sausage and it was delicious! We used brown rice and may have slipped in an extra tbsp or two of bread crumbs :

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  47. These are rice balls we're talking about!! lol They have a certain flavor. But still, I need to recognize that food is ever evolving, and it might still be delicious, just different. But please don't call it "Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole" if you substitute other stuff. That would just be wrong.

    Anyway, I made it and loved it!!! My only suggestion would be to salt the rice mixture a bit before pressing it into the pan. Oh, and don't use foil at all.

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  48. I just moved to Sicily and this tastes just like rice balls <3 it :)

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  49. Absolutely delicious, Gina! I made the filetto di pomodoro sauce to go with it and both my husband and I loved it. Thanks for doing what you do!

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  50. just another comment...the dish came out great,,,question?
    do all rice balls have sausage meat in them? can you skip that all together? the sausage I mean.

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  51. OneSpecialDee- You can skip it, but it really adds to the flavor in my opinion!

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  52. ok thanks Gina...my hubby not a big sausage fan...it turned out great though...

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  53. First off you had me at the word "Rice", I really can't wait to try this one! My mouth is watering right now, and I just ate a big breakfast!

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  54. Made this last night for my family and my sister and brother-in-law....this was DELICIOUS! Made your homemade sauce also. This was great!

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  55. I worked on this today as my kids napped so now all I have to do is wait until dinnertime to pop it into the oven. I can't wait! I have loved everything I have made from your site!

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  56. How do you think this would freeze? Since I'm taking the time to make it and I have a whole package of turkey and more than one sausage link, I'm wondering if I can make a double batch and freeze one for a busy week night?

    Thanks for the recipe!

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  57. Alissa, I know, I love rice!

    I'm so happy you all liked it.

    Amanda, this freezes great. I think I mentioned that above but yes, make two... freeze one for later.

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    1. To freeze, would you put it all together and just not bake? Then when ready to eat, how would you proceed to cook it? Thanks!

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  58. I made this tonight! SOO DELISH! But of course because I'm me I put them in my muffin pan. Made for nice portion sizes and I plan on boxing them on up for individual lunches. I plan on reposting this recipe (with all the appropriate acknowledgments and link backs OF COURSE!) on my blog. I am starting a month long "muffinized" healthy recipes. Come check it out if you want to see how they came out!

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  59. OMG! This was comfort food at it's finest!

    This was dinner tonight. I have lots left and packaged for future meals. I will definitely be making this again. Large, satisfying serving and just plain delicious!! Definitely didn't taste like "diet" food.

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  60. I made this Sunday night and my whole family enjoyed it! I loved it and shared the recipe it with my friends already! I messed up the recipe a little in regards to sauce and cheese (I sauced it and cheesed it all at once haha because I didn't read the whole recipe first, oops!) It still turned out great! Thanks for doing all the hard work!!

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  61. Amy, you can put it in a brownie pan!

    I knew you would all enjoy this!

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  62. Hi Gina-

    Love your recipes!!!
    As a Sicilian,and one eating healthy, I REALLY appreciate this recipe. I cannot wait to make it and tell my mom that her arancini are getting a run for their money :)

    Best,
    Salvina

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  63. this was delicious! one question, when i put the ingredients into the recipe builder it came out as 7 points plus...did i do something wrong or is this a pleasant surprise?

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  64. Thanks Salvina!

    7 points plus? Not sure, did you leave anything out? Sausage maybe?

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  65. nope, everything is there i just double checked again

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  66. This is very delicious looking recipe i am going to try it ASAP.
    Thanks.

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  67. I made this recipe for my Italian American family tonight. We grew up on Arancini. This recipe was fantastic and great alternative to the labor-intensiveness of making rice balls! I used chicken sausage. I really think that the sausage adds a nice flavor to the meat. I agree with Gina!
    Thanks, Gina. I'm sharing this recipe, and your website with friends and family

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  68. to the person who asked about the cheese sticking to the foil and how to avoid this...Sometimes I'll spray some pam or spray oil on the foil before I put it down and that seems to help :)

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  69. i am eating this right now as i am typing this. it is fabulous!! i will be putting this on my regular roatation of meals!! for desert we are having your no bake cheesecake (no crust) topped with blueberries! this is so good i cant believe i am eating this on weight watchers!

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  70. I made this over the weekend with brown rice, omitted the sausage (I am meh about sausage), added some spices to make up for it, added some diced sun dried tomatoes, and mistakenly used too many peas. Except for the peas, it turned out wonderful! It was my first time using and eating turkey and it really didn't kill me :) Thank you for the fab recipe Gina!

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  71. I made this today for dinner. So yummy. I can't wait for lunch tomorrow to have more.

    THANK YOU!

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  72. Sarah Leigh3/7/11, 7:59 PM

    Hi Gina! This was so awesome! I made it tonight and man you were not kidding about making 2 for the amount of work! However, it was COMPLETELY worth it! My husband loved it and our cats were meowing for some too (but we didnt let them have any :)

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  73. Just made this and it came out really really good. Gonna reheat it for supper tonight. Having cooked the sauce last week it didn't take that long for me to put it together and bake it. Microwaved the rice and the rest was easy.

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  74. These were FABULOUS! I didn't use peas because my husband strongly dislikes them..... so I used mushrooms; sauteed them in the mix. I also seasoned with lawry's seasoning salt and a greek seasoning. I ran out of tomato sauce becasue I made 1.5 dishes, so I added in a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes w/garlic/onion. We both loved them and they are great for being on WW. Thanks for all you do; I LOVE your site!

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  75. Loved the flavour of this and froze it and used it for lunches later on the next week. Definitely a do again. One quick question - mine didn't stay together very well. Any thoughts on where I went wrong - maybe it'll stay together next time.As always thanks for helping us all with eating properly.

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  76. This was so delicious and the portions are generous. A real indulgence. It reheats well as leftovers. I hope that it reheats just as well from frozen.

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  77. It was awesome, had it last night for my family and a girlfriend who joined us for dinner. My 3 year old LOVED it and asked for more :) I got the points down to 7 points plus with these revisions: substituted 10oz 93% lean ground beef for the turkey and used FF shredded mozzarella (which didn't melt on top but did melt in the center so next time I am putting all of it in the middle layer).

    I also made your filetto di pomodoro and it was awesome, that will become a staple in my house - the tip about baking soda to reduce the acidity is awesome and worked really well, it fizzed like mad but once it settled down it was much sweeter :)

    Thanks!!!

    Kate

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  78. Busylady- It sounds like your rice wasn't sticky enough. Don't use converted rice, it won't work.

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  79. Super awesome dish! My husband loves the traditionally fried rice balls and he loved this dish! We are both trying to change our eating habits and have to thank you for your site! I come here at least once a day! Thanks!

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  80. Natalie I'm so glad to hear it!

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  81. My husband and I just made this for dinner last night and it was fantastic!!! We even added a layer of spinach in the middle...delicious! I'm newly obsessed with your site and have been telling everyone I know about it. Every recipe I've tried has been fabulous! Thank you! :) :)

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  82. Made this for dinner last night. My store was totally out of turkey sausage (ughhhhh) so I just used all ground chicken. Was delish! Yours is definitely prettier though...haha

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  83. First of all...your blog is amazing. I literally preach skinnytaste to all of my co-workers and they love it just as much as I do. Thank you for all of the hard work you put into the blog. It is fabulous.

    This recipe looks amazing! If I wanted to make this ahead of time and freeze it for later in the week, would I bake it first and then freeze? Or just assemble everything and then freeze it, baking it for the first time the night we eat it?

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  84. Love your blog - and we loved this recipe!! Can't wait to make it again!! ;) http://redsie05.blogspot.com/2011/03/sicilian-rice-ball-casserole-ww.html

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  85. This came out great - really reminded me of arancini, and loved the chewy texture of the rice, especially the crusty parts that touched the baking dish. I ate it one night, saved a piece for the next night, and then cut the remaining 4 pieces into squares and wrapped them in foil and put them in a freezer bag. Home-made frozen dinners! They tasted even better the next day, once the flavors had time to meld.

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  86. This was delicious! Definitely a repeat requested by my family. It's also good as leftovers.

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  87. I just wanted to say THANK YOU! I found this recipe yesterday and I made it for dinner last night. I did make a few changes. I used 10 oz. frozen spinach instead of peas. I used smoked sausage instead of italian. I used olive oil and garlic Bertolli spaghetti sauce (the whole jar, 1/2 in meat sauce and 1/2 in rice)instead of the onions and garlic and tomato sauce. I used lean ground beef instead of turkey. I used Parmesan instead of Romano and I omitted the breadcrumbs. I only made all these changes because it's what I had on hand. This will be a favorite in my house!!! We LOVED it! Thanks for a GREAT recipe!!

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  88. Thank you for such a delicious recipe. Definitely a repeat in my kitchen!

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  89. I'm not sure what this is supposed to taste like, but I must have messed up somewhere because it was not very good.

    I've had such great success with every other recipe I've tried of yours, I don't know how I ever lived without this site before. Thanks so much for helping me with my weight loss!

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  90. This was just like my Nana (my Maltese Grandmother) used to make. It was so good. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe and all the others!

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  91. Took a little time to make but well worth it! Delicious!!

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  92. So I just made this AWESOME dish and it's in the oven cooking as I type. I know you had mentioned that your friend makes a double batch and freezes it. Does she cook it in the oven before freezing it or skip the oven stage and go right to the freezer?? Thanks so much! I have a pan waiting to freeze;)

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  93. Sara, she assembles it then freezes it. Let's it thaw the night before in the refrigerator, then bakes the next day.

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  94. AWESOME!! Thanks so much. This was by far one of our family favorites. You are seriously amazing and we are so thankful to have found your site. I am cooking form your site atleast 3-4 times a week. Thank you for all of your time, hard work and LOVE you put into this blog!!

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  95. I generally like the recipes on this blog but not this one...I made this and I have to say it wasnt so great. First, 2 cups of rice definetly wasnt enough to cover the bottom and top of a 3X12 pan. Second, the rice on the bottom just became this crust...maybe it was cooked too long, maybe because there wasnt alot of rice,or maybe I pushed it down too much...not sure what went wrong. Third, the flavors were kinda bland. It didnt taste like a aranchini at all if thats what the goal was. Plain tomato sauce has no flavor. I added some garlic and italian seasoning to the meat mixture which helped.

    Overall, I dont like this recipe but it could be good if you tweak it.

    Next time I will try just layering the turkey, cheese, rice, and top with the breadcrumbs to give a similar effect. It will not dry out the rice, and will save time/complication of coating the pan with the breadcrumbs which to me didnt add anything.

    -Tiffany

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    Replies
    1. One option is adding saffron to the rice IMO,that is what I do for my arancini

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  96. This is EXACTLY like a recipe my grandmother makes!! Hers, of course, is more like WW-enemy, but it's probably my favorite dish. I can't wait to try your skinny version!!
    Gina - I've been making my weekly menus based off of your recipes and I'm proud to share I lost 5 pounds last week! Thanks for sharing!

    -September

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  97. Good for you September, hope you like it!!

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  98. Thanks for this (and your whole site while I am at it). My husband thought this was the weirdest recipe but once he tried it he kept saying "It's strange but it sure is good!" We really enjoyed it...I may have gone a little heavy handed on the cheese though :) Hopefully I'll still lose weight this week!

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  99. My family absolutely LOVED this dish. it is one of the best ww things I have made yet, and I cook something new everyday since last July! I used lean ground beef instead of turkey, we don't like ground turkey. The sausage added a perfect kick of flavor! I made my homemade tomato sauce and put onions in it, so I did not put more onions in the recipe. I also needed more tomato sauce then what the recipe said but my sauce is 0 points. I also needed 1 more cup of rice to cover everything but that added less then 1 point to each serving and well worth it. The way it was written, I sprinkled all the cheese and then read the next step and realized I needed more cheese for the top, so wish it had said to use a portion of the cheese and then the other portion but other then that, it was AMAZING! 10 STARS +

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  100. Sorry about the cheese but I am glad you enjoyed this!

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  101. Absolutely delicious, even the kids liked it and it fills you up.I think it can even be cut for 10 servings. Served with a side salad.

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  102. Meredith B.6/26/11, 9:55 AM

    I made this last night and my husband and I LOVED it. This is going to be added as a staple meal for sure! Thank you for creating beautiful food for those of us who are working hard to lose weight.
    PS -- this was also great reheated as leftovers!
    I'm trying 3 more dishes this week!

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  103. Love this recipe - I've made it a few times and I have to say, I think it's even better reheated, and it freezes really well!

    If anyone else is doing a high-protein diet, you might be interested in this: I doubled the turkey and used 99% lean, which I didn't find dry at all, and halved the rice and used brown instead of white. Then, I just used a smaller baking dish so that the rice still covered the bottom. Still delicious!

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  104. I made this for my family today along with the skinny turkey italian meatballs and everything was delicious! Thank you for all of your fabulous recipes...I've tried so many and everything has been amazing. :)

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  105. I made this last night for dinner and it is delicious!

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  106. Made this last week and loved it. I used brown rice (minute rice) and it turned out great. My husband even approved and called it a "rice lasagna."

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  107. I made this for dinner tonight. It was delicious. Darling husband and children loved it. Thank you for another delicious recipe!

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  108. Assembled this last night and cooked it today. Soooo yummy!!! Thank you!

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  109. Made this last night, SO GOOD!!

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  110. This is a great 100% filling low point meal. I love it and have already told 4 of my friends they have to come over for a dinner party and try this LOVE LOVE LOVE this.

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  111. My friends are clambering for the recipe! Thank you!

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  112. I have made this twice now (once for home and once for a church event) and both got rave reviews. I altered it slightly with the church one (more people - made more of the meat filling as it was the main dish). So yummy!!!

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  113. loved this recipe! made this last night and it was so yummy. used a jarred arrabiata sauce to give it some kick.

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  114. Gina,

    I'm going to make this tonight and am SOOOO excited! Question, will this work with canned tomato sauce? I know that's pretty much a sin in the Italian world haha (trust me, I'm Italian and know!) but I don't have quite that much time to make the recipe with the homemade sauce....

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  115. My aunt made this last night for our Family Christmas party, I have wanted to make it for a while and haven't gotten to it. As soon as I heard it was yours, I was all over it! OMG! Delicious! Can't wait to have the time to make it myself! She lives in the other end of our state, it was so awesome to talk "Gina" with her!

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  116. Will be making this one next week and adding it to my Christmas lineup. Was going to make another Italian dish but this one appeals to me more. I think I will make it today to see how it comes out. Thanks for always making our favorites point friendly Gina!

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  117. I just made this, and oh my... I don't even like sausage (or peas), but decided to be brave and follow the recipe as is, and boy am I glad I did! It was absolutely DELICIOUS!

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  118. I'm so glad you all liked it ;)

    Lol jarred sauce is an Italian sin but if you must!

    Cheryl, lol talked 'Gina' with your aunt, that's funny! Glad you liked it!

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  119. This is the first comment I've posted, but I just made this dish and it so DELICIOUS I had to give kudos! I can't wait to make it again!

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  120. OMG, this was so delicious! I don't like sausage, and I don't eat red meat so I substituted ground turkey for all the meat! I'm on WW, and this was so filling and yummy! I froze the rest in portions and then I take for lunch at work. I loved this! Thanks for sharing!

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  121. @Debfox, I'm so glad you made this with just ground turkey and it still came out great. I'm making this tonight with all ground turkey just because we don't have any sausage.

    Thank you for all the great WW recipes Gina! I love trying them all! I have so many here next to me printed out. :)

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  122. made this recipe last night and it was ok. definitly needs more spice. i think next time i will use hot sausage instead of sweet. otherwise it was good.

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  123. This reminds me so much of a dish I had growing up in Miami - Arroz Imperial. I think it must be the Cuban version of this same idea.....yum!

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  124. I made this for my kids and me (ages 3 & 5). They hated it.

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  125. I loved this. It makes a ton! I think that it would be a really great dish to take to a potluck. I wonder if the people that didn't enjoy it used a store bought sauce or something because I can't figure out what's not to like. It's really good and tastes so homemade.

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  126. I love this recipe! I've made it several times and it is awesome. This is my husband's favorite skinnytaste dish. :) Now, though, I have a toddler and she is allergic to eggs... Has anyone tried making it without eggs? or substituting? I know she will love every other aspect of the dish!
    --Erin

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  127. As if I need another reason to love your site...I was going through your older recipes and saw this---being Sicilian, and loving arrancini, I jumped for joy! This looks amazing, and I can't wait to try it!

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  128. Time consuming but soooo worth it. Even my picky son enjoy'd it :-)

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  129. Yet another amazing recipe. Thanks Gina, this was fabulous!

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  130. Can we use pasta sauce rather than homemade?

    Thanks!

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    1. And anyone who has used sauce other than homemade feel free to share!

      I'm making this tonight & I'm hoping to get an answer by then :)

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  131. Made this tonight and it was delicious! My husband loved it- he's not a huge fan of spices so this was great for him. A simple, rustic dish. A little time consuming but worth it! I used Newman's Marinara Sauce and it worked beautifully. Will definitely make this one again!

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  132. I was browsing the recipes and when I came across this one, I decided I had to try it. It was absolutely delicious and even my very picky husband raved about it!

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  133. Hi Gina, just want to let you know that this is a staple in our household. It's an oldie but a goodie from you. My husband and I LOVE this recipe.

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  134. This was great! I don't know how I missed the ground turkey but I did not have any so just put in another link of sausage. Delish!

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  135. My very picky husband loved this and it is actually something he asks me to make now. I do it with all hot Italian turkey sausage and it's actually even better after a couple of days - delicious stuff!

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  136. This recipe is the best! I love Gina's comment about jar sauce being an Italian sin - my Italian grandma would be very disappointed in me! Unfortunately, as a busy grad student, I am always looking for time savers and in this case, jar sauce saved me a ton of time! I used Classico sausage, pepper and onion sauce and it's really flavorful. I also used 2 bags of Trader Joe's frozen brown rice - it's super sticky and SUPER easy to make. With these two substitutions, it only takes me about 30 minutes to assemble.

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  137. A friend and I made this recipe last night and it is incredible. As we were eating, we kept looking at each other and saying, "This is so good!" Thank you so much the delicious recipe :o)

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  138. Hi Gina
    I made tonight to serve tomorrow for the Super Bowl ! After being in the fridge all night, how long and at what temp should I reheat it for so that it doesn't dry out?

    Can't wait to try it!

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  139. This is my absolute favorite recipe from this site!! Growing up in Brooklyn my mom used to get us rice balls all the time. I used long grain brown rice, lean ground beef (because I'm pregnant and hating on poultry), and Bertolli Italian Sausage sauce (because I'm lazy) and it came out so delicious. I was worried about the brown rice, but it worked out fine. The sauce actually isn't too bad stats wise, either.

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  140. Made this tonight. This is definitely one of my favorite Skinnytaste recipes. I plan on freezing about half of it, so glad to know it freezes well. I def. see the benefit of making two of these.

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  141. I made this recipe for dinner. Made a few modifications. I only used the 1 lb bulk Italian sausage. I drained it and added 1 1/2 cup fresh spinach, 1 cup fresh mushrooms, and some diced garlic. I also added the peas.

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  142. Do you freeze it before or after baking? I imagine you could do both, but just wondering! Thanks!

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  143. This was great, even a hit with my super picky teenager!

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  144. Made this for my husband and I tonight and it was hard to restrain ourselves. It was so good and easy to put together! Thanks for the great recipe :-)

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  145. This dish was delicious! Even more on the reheat. Great job!

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  146. Just a quick question. What could I use instead of egg because I am highly allergic? I have so many food allergies & this is actually something I could try to eat minus the egg. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you for something that looks delicious & probably tastes amazing that I would be so happy to eat :)

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    1. I have made this a number of times and when I made it last night was thinking I could probably leave out the egg entirely. In doing so, I would add more sauce (maybe another 2 oz to the rice mixture and another 2 oz on top to keep it moist).

      When egg is used as a binder, as it is here, I know you can sub 1/4 cup of pureed fruit (like applesauce) and I would imagine that the same amount of pureed squash would also work.

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  147. This looks great and easier than the rice balls, going to try it out this weekend!

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  148. This was delicious and tasted just like the rice balls from the pizzeria! The sauce was amazing and have a container saved in the freezer for future use.

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  149. OMG I started making something just like this about 12 years ago because I loved rice balls so much and was spending way too much money on them at the pizza place. I chose to do it as a casserole because I hated frying anything in my house because of the smell that lingered for days after. Now that I have a daughter who has a wheat allergy, this is one of the things I make for her all the time to keep frozen in squares for super-fast dinner nights. This recipe has more ingredients though. I will definitely give this one a try!

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  150. You posted this 3 yrs ago today and I made it last night (and we'll have it tonight as leftovers)!

    Just a note, I forgot the prep my Pyrex with breadcrumbs (just used non-stick spray) and it didn't stick. Good to know :)

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  151. Both my husband and I were born in Italy and I have to tell you this was amazing!!! I didn't use the sausage and I salted and peppered the rice. I used brown rice without a problem. Was a big hit in my house! Looking forward to making more of your recipes!!

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