So, you’re trying to save some calories, and trying to eat fewer fried foods…well, here’s an idea that may appeal to those who have always loved the old Italian favorite: the Rice Ball. Also known as “Arancini” to the Italians out there. Mine is prepared in a flattened appearance, with the same great tastes and yet, not fried. So, did I peak your interest? Then, read on!!
A traditional Rice Ball consists of the cooked rice, of course, formed into a ball with a center of either a chop meat-sauce-peas mixture or some rice balls offer just a cheesey center which is mozzarella. Then the balls are coated in flavored bread crumbs and fried. Tastes delish, but certainly higher in calories due to all of the breading and frying, but also tricky to form into a ball while juggling that center area. Ta-dah! Tastes great, easier to achieve! Flat Italian Rice Ball…Gluten Free of course.
Dash of Salt & Pepper ( to your taste) 1 14oz.can Crushed Tomatoes. 1 Tbl Basil. If you have fresh leaves, use 4 or 5 leaves, chopped 2 Garlic Cloves. Minced 2 tbl Minced Yellow Onion 4 tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil, separate into 2 parts: 2 tbl EVOO to prepare sauce & 2 tbl to saute meat later.
Meat Prep Ingredients: ½ lb Beef Chop Meat. Dash of Oregano flakes, just a quick dash. Salt & Pepper to taste for Meat 1 Garlic Clove, minced 2 tbl Minced Yellow Onion 1 teas. Parsley Flakes or finely minced fresh leaves 6 oz. Frozen Peas
Approx. 4 or 5 oz. Mozzarella for topping (If using pre-shredded in a bag, use ½ of bag ) Grated Reggiano or Romano Cheese. As much or as little as you prefer.
Of course, we need to cook the rice first. Follow the instructins on the pkg and be sure to use a cooked white, long grain rice. We need the starchy-ness. While it’s cooking, start the sauce.
In a medium saucepan, place 2 tbl oil and when hot, saute the garlic & onion until the onion is translucent. Don’t burn them. When at that point add the crushed tomatoes, basil and S & P. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Stir frequently so it doesn’t stick and burn. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
While the simmering phase is going on, take a skillet and add the rest of the oil. When it’s hot, add the garlic and onion and do as you did above. Don’t allow to burn. When translucent, add the loose chop meat ( beef used here), spices and saute until the meat is browned and cooked through. Add the frozen peas and about 2 ladles-full of the sauce. Stir well to combine and cover. Just simmer on low flame for 5 minutes to de-freeze the peas and cook them a bit.
When the meat combo is done, and the sauce is cooked, and the rice is all ready, we can prepare our dish. Take a pan with at least 2 in. sides, such as a square pyrex, or corning, or even a square metal pan that is about 9-10 in long by about 6 in. wide, or a square 8 in or 10 in. pan. First, spray the bottom lightly with a Vegetable cooking spray, such as Pam. (Gluten Free of course) Then dust the bottom with the ½ cup of G-Free Bread crumbs. This can be achieved by tiling the pan and spreading them all about.
Next, take ½ of the cooked rice and spread all about the bottom and go up the sides slightly. Use the back of a lg. spoon to compact it down. Press into place.
When the whole bottom is covered, now take the meat mixture and spoon it on top of the 1st layer, that rice.
Then take the second half of the cooked rice and spread on top of the meat/pea combo. Cover the entire layer and be sure to go up to the corners and edges.
Now, using a lg. spoon or ladle, poor some sauce over that top layer of rice. Not too much, we’re not soaking it . Just a bit.
Lastly, sprinkle some grated cheese on the sauce and finally, spread that Mozarella all over the top.
Cut into squares to serve, don’t just dig in to scoop some out. It should be served in a square portion, so the recipients get all layers intact. After all, the original rice ball provided all tastes in one serving. You bit into rice, then got to the center and on the bottom, you ate more rice!! Enjoy!