These mini baked Italian rice balls are made with brown rice, chicken sausage, spinach and mozzarella cheese. Served with some warm marinara sauce, they make the perfect finger foods for the Holiday season or any time you want to serve appetizers.
The Holidays are right around the corner, so this week I am sharing Holiday recipes to get you in the spirit. I don’t know about you, but I love Italian rice balls. They are often deep fried and high in calories so I typically stay away unless I’m making this Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole which turns rice balls into a meal!
I came across a recipe from the Baby&Toddler on the Go Cookbook (which btw is such a great book for feeding young kids) for mini baked brown rice aranci, and adapted them with adult palates in mind and more of the flavors I typically like in a rice ball. This recipe cuts a substantial amount of fat by baking instead of frying and replaces the white rice with brown – but you still get plenty of flavor from the sausage and Pecorino Romano cheese.
You can make the filling ahead of time, roll them into balls and refrigerate until you are ready to bake them. I would bread them just before baking.
Baked Mini Spinach and Sausage Arancini
Servings: 11 • Size: 2 rice balls • Old Points: 2 pts • Points+: 2 pts
Calories: 89 • Fat: 3 g • Protein: 5 g • Carb: 11 g • Fiber: 1 g • Sugar: 1 g
Sodium: 254 mg • Cholesterol: 27 mg
- 1 Italian chicken (or turkey) sausage link, removed from casing
- cooking spray
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 large egg and 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 cup cooked brown rice, hot
- 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup chopped spinach
- 1 large egg white
- 3 tbsp Pecorino Romano
- 2 tbsp quick marinara sauce, plus more for serving
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
Place the flour, beaten egg and egg white, and bread crumbs in separate bowls.
Cook the sausage in a small saute pan, breaking it up as it cooks until cooked through. Set aside to cool then place in a small chopper to mince.
In a medium bowl, combine the rice, sausage, mozzarella, spinach, egg white, pecorino romano cheese, and 2 tbsp marinara sauce mixing well. Roll about 1 heaping tablespoon of the rice mixture into a round ball.
Roll the ball in the flour, then the egg, and then the bread crumbs, shaking off any excess at each step. Place the breaded rice ball on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining rice mixture until it has all been used up.
Bake the balls for 8 minutes, turn over, and bake for another 8 minutes, until they are a crisp golden brown. Let the rice balls cool before serving, and serve with hot marinara sauce for dipping.
Makes 22 balls.