Rice Ball Casserole

In my area there is an Italian shop that sells Sicilian specialties … the two prominent things on their menu are crispelle (fried dough balls – either “plain” which is coated in sugar, cheese (ricotta) or anchovies).  They also sell fried rice balls which come with or without a side of sauce.  Growing up we’d stop into the shop once in a while to get some crispelle and a few rice balls to bring home.  Rice balls are a delicious treat, but they’re not so forgiving to my thighs.  These particular rice balls were made of large amounts of rice with a hollowed out center where a mixture of meat (chicken, a dash of sauce, spices, cheese and peas were “buried” in the middle).  The ball was then formed together, rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried until cooked. The way I liked them was drowned in homemade Italian sauce.
I’ve learned of ways to have some of my favorite not-so-healthy dishes in ways that become healthier and far more point friendlier.  I haven’t made a rice ball casserole in a while and for some reason, while jotting down my meal plan for the week rice ball casserole popped into my head – so rice ball casserole it was going to be!
This dish is quite possibly one of the easiest dishes to assemble and serve up.  I opted to use my homemade sauce in the casserole, as well as on the side to “garnish” each piece.  I sent a slice to my aunt to try and she sent a message back saying I should begin creating a cookbook.  My boyfriend was in food heaven and my mother raved about

how good of a cook I’ve become.

The slices are pretty large size slices and you could always cut it in half but since I prefer dinner to be my most filling meal, this was perfect.
To see the sauce recipe I used in this casserole, please see here: http://shannonslifestyle.blogspot.com/2013/07/homemade-quick-cook-sauce.html
Rice Ball Casserole.
Serves 8.  8 points plus values/serving.

  • 8 cups cooked white rice
  • ½ cup liquid egg substitute
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 ½ cups frozen peas
  • 3, 13 oz cans of 98% Fat Free Premium Chunk Chicken Breast (after draining it was 585g)
  • 2 cups homemade “quick cook” pasta sauce
  • 1/3 cup Whole Wheat seasoned bread crumbs
  • Non-stick cooking spray
Steam rice beforehand, using whatever method you choose, and let cool for 30-60 minutes.  (I cooked 4 cups of raw rice in my rice cooker and let cool for an hour afterwards.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees,
Measure out 8 cups of rice into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, pour ½ cup egg substitute over rice and mix well to combine.
Drain canned chicken and measure weight of chicken on a food scale (I used 585 grams).  Shred chicken up into smaller pieces, combine with frozen peas.  Add in sauce ½ cup at a time to ensure all chicken and peas are coated.  You’re not looking for the mixture to be drenched, but you’re looking for it to be coated but not wet.
Spray a 13×9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray, evenly distribute 4 ½ – 5 cups of rice onto the bottom of the pan – add a little extra if there are any noticeable “gaps” in the bottom layer.
Spoon in chicken and pea mixture spreading evenly to cover all of the rice. Spoon remaining rice mixture on top of the chicken and pea mixture making sure to cover the entire area.  The top layer doesn’t have to be as “thick” as the bottom layer.
Sprinkle top of the casserole with bread crumbs and spritz lightly with non-stick cooking spray (to give it a little more golden finish).
Cook in 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until nicely golden brown.  When done, let cool for at least 25 minutes before cutting.
Serve with additional homemade sauce on top (I recommend it that way; I feel it really brings all flavors together even more).  When I add additional sauce, I give my meal 1 additional points plus value.