Foodie Fridays – Rice Ball Casserole

I scooped this out as soon as it came out of the oven and it fell apart a little bit – but it was so good!!

I am not Italian – but Tom is.  One of these days I’ll list out all of the ethnicities our future children are going to have to rattle off when someone asks them what their background is – poor kids. Anyway – of course I love most Italian foods and clearly I grew up with the basics like baked ziti, spaghetti and meatballs, and parmigiana anything, but I had a lot to learn about all the other Italian staples – like potato croquettes and rice balls.  I had never heard of them until I met Tom and his family, and quickly fell in love.

So obvs when I saw this lil recipe on Pinterest, I had to try it out for myself.  This recipe has been “skinny-fied” but I just have a personal belief that some things (mainly cheese) are supposed to be full fat.  I followed pretty much everything else exactly as written but decided to use my whole milk mozzarella – it’s too damn good to say no to!

Rice Ball Casserole
via Skinny Taste

  • 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 (Or whole milk mozzarella if you are rebel like me!!)

Cook rice in water according to package directions. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, brown sausage, turkey and onions, 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. 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.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. 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. Serve and enjoy!

Every now and then I really impress Tom with dinner – last night was definitely one of those times! This recipe was the first I’ve tried of Gina’s from Skinny Taste, and now that the wedding is only about 4 months away (ack!) I think I’ll be trying more of her recipes.  This was incredibly filling and taste was not compromised one bit – which is important to someone who loathes dieting as much as I do. Try it and you’ll agree!

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