Mini rice balls are stuffed with soppressata (an Italian cured meat), eggs, butter, pecorino and parmigiano cheeses, lightly coated in breadcrumbs, then baked until golden tender. A fun appetizer to make! Make, bake and serve these little guys with some fresh marinara sauce for dipping. It becomes a huge hit at every party!
One week before Christmas and while we were packing for our trip to New York to spend the holiday with our family, my daughter came home from school and asked if I could make her favorite mini rice balls to bring to her best friends Christmas party. Of course, I said – for when? She tells me it’s for tonight, and that she needs to bring them in one hour! I could feel my stress level started to rise immediately, I needed to take my blood pressure right there, but I couldn’t, I didn’t have time!
Realizing I had less than an hour to pull it off, I decided it would be best to throw them into the oven and bake them instead of frying. I didn’t have any mozzarella either, so I decided to add in some soppressata instead, to give it more of a flavorful punch; a spicy flavor similar to a sausage.
If you never had soppressata before, well let me tell you, it is an Italian dry salami (and comes from southern Italy) that is cured with pepper and garlic for a couple of months to make it a little spicy. This particular salami happens to be the most popular cured meats served on restaurants charcuterie boards.
I only baked the rice balls at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. I thought they were perfect and moist inside, but not crispy enough for my Lizzy.
So I put them back into the oven to bake them longer and at a higher temperature until they turned golden brown (not shown). She preferred them crispier, but I was worried about drying them out. And to our surprise, they turned out really good! Lizzy said everyone loved them at the party so much that they disappeared so quickly! And I was glad about that!
Here’s a tip: If you are planning to have a New Year’s Eve gathering, these rice balls can be made the day before. Refrigerate them over night, when ready, allow them to sit aside on the counter to warm up at room temperature (about 20 to 30 minutes) just before you pop them into the oven. Best to bake them before serving.
Baked Mini Rice Balls Stuffed with Soppressata
- 2 cups long grain rice
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 5 Tbsp. butter- divided
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp. organic dried parsley
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- 2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
- 4 to 5 slices soppressata salami
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups plain breadcrumbs
- olive oil cooking spray
- 1 cup mom’s marinara sauce for dipping
In a medium size sauce pot, bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add rice, 2 tablespoons of butter ( to flavor rice while cooking) and 1 teaspoon of salt.
Cover with a lid and lower the heat to simmer for 20 minutes.
Rice should be tender to the bite.
Remove from stove, add 3 eggs, the remaining 3 Tbsp. of butter and mix well until the butter completely dissolves into the mixture. Add parsley, olive oil, cheeses and dry salami. Mix well again and taste the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer rice to a bowl and set it aside to cool for about 15 minutes.
In the meantime, chop salami into small bite-size pieces.
Preheat oven 400 degrees.
Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
When rice mixture is cooled enough to work with.
Place breadcrumbs into a plate or bowl. With a teaspoon or small ice cream scooper, scoop a small amount of rice mixture into your palm and roll into a small ball, the size of 1 to 2 inches. Roll into the breadcrumbs until completely coated.
Place each one onto the baking sheet.
Continue until you finish the rice mixture. You can place them side by side, or use 2 baking trays if needed.
Lightly spray the tops of the rice balls with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn over the balls and bake for additional 10 minutes, or until they are golden color.
Remove and serve with some marinara sauce for dipping.
Yields: 53 mini rice balls