Sicilian Rice Balls

I like to serve these with warm marinara sauce for dipping. Bite-size rice balls make a lovely appetizer for a cocktail party.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups water
  • 1 pound Arborio rice (found in the rice or Italian section of supermarkets)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup minced fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs or equivalent egg substitute, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups plain dry bread crumbs
  • ½ cup olive oil

Method

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a covered pot over high heat. Stir in the rice. Lower the heat to low. Cover and cook the rice for about 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from the heat. Turn the rice into a bowl. Stir in the mozzarella, Parmesan, and parsley, mixing well to melt the mozzarella. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, until cool enough to handle.
  2. Scoop ¼ cupful of the rice mixture into your hand and roll into a ball. Set the rice ball on a cookie sheet. Continue forming all of the rice mixture into balls; you’ll have about 24 balls.
  3. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Measure the bread crumbs into a separate bowl. Roll each rice ball into the beaten eggs to coat, then lift out and shake off excess. Roll the rice ball in the bread crumbs to coat. Shake off the excess. Place the breaded rice balls back on the cookie sheet and repeat with the remaining rice balls until they are all breaded.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a separate cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place as many rice balls in the heated oil as you can fit without crowding. Brown the rice balls evenly on all sides, cooking 1 to 2 minutes per side, until evenly browned. Transfer the browned rice balls to the prepared cookie sheet. Heat the remaining ¼ cup olive oil. Continue browning the remaining rice balls. Bake the rice balls for 20 minutes to heat through. Serve alone or with lemon wedges or warm marinara sauce.

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