March 10, 2013

Baked Green Rice Balls

Baked Green Rice Balls

When I cook brown rice I have a tendency to go overboard. It all begins with soaking brown rice overnight to make it germinate. A reasonable person would soak one cup (maybe two) at a time.
The road I take is far from reasonableness. I usually empty the whole 1lb brown rice bag into a bowl a cover it with water. Damage is done.
But it’s only 24 hours later, when it’s time to cook it, that I suddenly realize my mistake. You see, 1lb of uncooked brown rice turns into a full 2 lb of cooked brown rice (maybe even more?). And what the heck am I going to do with that humongous amount of cooked rice?
As much as I like brown rice, it gets boring pretty quickly. 

Fortunately, there are many uses for leftover rice. One of my fave has to be baked rice balls. A simple, quick, healthy and d’lish recipe. An absolute winner!

Baked Green Rice Balls

As I like to include greens in every dish that I cook, I made a green peas pesto to mix with the rice. This enhances flavor and adds precious nutrients.
To make the rice a bit “surprising” I also included some mozzarella cheese in middle. The mozzarella will melt, and by the time you’ll dig your fork into the rice ball, it will ooze out on your plate. Yeah, now we’re talking!


Baked Green Rice Balls
Baked Green Rice Balls                                                                                      Print this recipe!

Few notes. I found some amazing cherry mozzarellas the other day at the Chelsea market here in NYC. They’re the best because they fit in the middle of the rice ball perfectly. If you can’t find those at your local grocery store just buy a whole mozzarella and cut it into cherry bites.
Also make sure that the rice is cold and sticky, it will make the process of making the rice balls much easier.

Ingredients
Makes 14 rice balls

3 cups / 1 lb / 453 gr cooked brown rice
1 egg lightly beaten
½ cup / 3.5 oz / 50 gr Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup / 4.5 oz / 128 gr frozen peas
1 medium onion, chopped

6 fresh mint leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried mint)
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 cup / 7 oz / 200 gr whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (you won’t use them all)
14 cherry mozzarellas (or 1 fresh mozzarella cut into cherry cubes)

Directions

In a pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper and saute’ until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the frozen peas and cook for 5 minutes, adding 2 tablespoons of water half way through.
Remove from heat,
add the mint transfer to a plastic beaker and puree with an immersion blender.  You can also blend it in a regular blender.
In a large bowl combine the rice, egg, Parmesan cheese, and peas pesto.
In a large plate combine panko breadcrumbs with ½ teaspoon of salt and some black pepper.
Using an ice-cream scoop (or a regular tablespoon), form a ball of the rice mixture. Insert a cherry mozzarella (or a mozzarella bites) and form the ball around it again, using your hands.
Gently drop the rice ball in the breadcrumbs mixture and coat well.
Repeat until all the rice balls are formed (allow to sit until the oven has reached the desired temperature).
Heat oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly brush/grease with olive oil.
Gently drop the rice balls onto the baking sheet and bake for about 20 or until the rice balls are golden.
Serve hot and if you end up with leftovers (which is very unlikely) just reheat them in the microwave for a minute  or two to get the mozzarella oozing effect again.

Nutrition facts

One rice ball scores the following nutrition facts 118 calories, 4.8 grams of fat, 13.6 grams of carbs and 5.6 grams of protein.



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