Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole
This casserole takes one of my favorite appetizers (arancini) and turns it into a weeknight meal. Freezes well, great for potlucks and family friendly!
I can’t take full credit for this, this is pure genius from my friend Julia of Julia’s Healthy Italian. I originally shared this in 2011, but I thought it was time to reshoot the photos. I tweaked her recipe to lighten it up a bit, but she takes full credit for the creativity. Servings are large and very satisfying, you could serve a simple green salad on the side if you want more greens.
The filling is ground turkey with a little sausage that adds lots of flavor, plus peas and sauce. If you don’t like peas, swap it with another vegetable. I’m thinking of trying a broccoli and sausage version next. I’ve made this with brown rice, it works fine too.
Julia usually makes double and freezes the second casserole to use later. I halved her original, but it makes sense to make two for the same amount of work it takes to make one. I serve mine with a little extra sauce on the side and have also made this with brown rice and it works great.
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
Servings: 8 • Serving Size: 1 slice (1/8th) • PP: 9 pts • Smart Points: 10
Calories: 373 • Fat: 10 g • Sat Fat: 4 g • Carb: 47 g • Fiber: 2 g • Protein: 21 g
Sugar: 1 g • Sodium: 629 mg • Chol: 61 mg
- 2 cups uncooked long grain rice
- 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 (2.5 oz) sweet Italian sausage link, casing removed
- 10 oz (.65 lbs) 93% lean ground turkey
- 1/4 cup onion, minced
- black pepper
- 5 oz frozen peas
- 2 cups homemade tomato sauce
- 1 large egg, 1 egg white
- 1/2 cup pecorino romano (or parmesan)
- cooking spray
- 4 tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs, divided
- 1 1/4 cup shredded part skim mozzarella
- fresh parsley or basil, if desired
Cook rice with 1 teaspoon kosher salt 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 3/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste, then add peas and 1 cup sauce; simmer on low, covered, about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl combine cooked rice, pecorino romano, eggs, and 1/2 cup tomato sauce and mix well. Rice should be a bit sticky.
Spray a 9 x 13 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. Fill with the meat and peas.
The cover with remaining rice and press until even.
Top with remaining sauce, remaining 2 tbsp breadcrumbs, and remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.
Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes, until hot. Garnish with parsley or basil if desired, cut into 8 pieces and serve.
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