Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas. This rice ball casserole is stuffed with a blend of chopped meat, peas, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese, in an all-in-one delicious casserole, then baked until the mozzarella on top is melted.
It makes an easier alternative to making the original Sicilian rice balls which are large rice balls stuffed the same way, only they are coated with breadcrumbs then deep-fried. These Sicilian rice balls are commonly known as “arancine,” and one my husband goes bonkers for!
We love Sicilian rice balls best in a casserole version, making it so much easier to pull it all together and still enjoy the same deliciousness you get from the original rice balls.
The fact is, I enjoy this rice ball casserole much better (than in the form of rice balls) because it’s baked rather than fried, and it makes clean up a breeze!
Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas is a meal your whole family will love!
I made this a few weeks ago for my Sicilian husband and for some guests who were staying with us.
I used our mom’s marinara sauce, which I had on hand. But you can use your favorite store-bought sauce if you prefer. For this recipe, you will need a lot of prepared tomato sauce, about 4 cups, and more.
Our mom always made this dish into a casserole with all the same fantastic ingredients.
So amazingly delicious! Only she prefers to make it with her classic bolognese sauce and just adds frozen peas to it.
Both recipes are fantastic!
If you’re looking for the perfect one-dish meal containing carbs, protein, and vegetables? Then this Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas is it!
COOK’S NOTES and TIPS for Best Rice Ball Casserole:
This is a 2 step process to prepare. One is the rice mixture and the other is the meat filling. You can make this casserole one day before and refrigerate until you are ready to pop into the oven.
Keep in mind, you will need a lot of prepared marinara sauce on hand to make and serve with this casserole; simply because these rice balls (aka Arancini) are usually served with some extra tomato sauce on top, or next to it. So have extra marinara sauce heated, when serving.
It’s best to use Long Grain Rice. You need sticky rice to make this casserole. Instant rice will not work.
Rice ball casserole will feed a large family; however, you can divide this recipe into 2 smaller trays and freeze one before baking. They freeze well and up to 3 weeks.
You can also make this a little healthier and less fattening using ground veal, chicken, or turkey, but my husband says “it’s not Sicilian if you don’t use beef! “..Lol… Either way, this is a dish everyone should try!
BEST Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas makes an easy and fabulous meal for the whole family to enjoy!
Enjoy and have a great day!
*Follow along with our Step-by-Step directions, or jump down to the bottom for our full recipe card.
How to Make Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas:
1. First, cook 3 cups of rice with 6 cups of water, and follow directions on the package, including adding in some butter and 1 teaspoon of salt to the water. When rice is cooked, transfer to a large mixing bowl, add the additional butter, mix and set aside to cool.
2. In the meantime, using a medium skillet, sauté chopped onion and garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook meat until browned and well cooked. Using a wooden spoon, break the chopped meat while cooking. Season with salt and pepper. Add peas and 8-ounces (1 cup) of tomato sauce (prepared marinara sauce). Simmer on low heat, covered for 5 minutes. Turn off heat.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Next, in a large mixing bowl, combine rice with eggs, Pecorino cheese, and pour in 8-ounces of marinara sauce and mix well. Rice will be sticky.
4. Spray one 13 x 9 casserole dish, including all four sides, with cooking spray. Add breadcrumbs to the baking dish, roll the dish until bottom and all sides are coated with breadcrumbs.
5. Take half of the rice mixture and cover the bottom of the dish and pressing down to form a layer. Add the entire meat and peas mixture to cover the rice. Spread an additional ladle (about 1/2 cup) of marinara sauce evenly over the meat and peas mixture.
6. Scatter with a layer of shredded mozzarella on top.
7. Add the remaining rice and press with the back of a spoon until the layer is even.
8. Top the rice with remaining marinara sauce, 8-ounces. Sprinkle with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top. Then top with a layer of shredded mozzarella.
9. Cover with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes, until the mozzarella is melted. Remove and cut into 12 squares.
Prepare in Advance
You can make this casserole up to one day ahead before baking it. Keep in mind, you will need to take it out of the refrigerator and allow it to warm up to room temperature before baking it, at least one to two hours before baking. Also, when serving, you will need to have extra tomato sauce (heated) at the table for those who love it drowning in the sauce!
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Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas is one of the most popular recipes on our blog!
I decided to revive it from our archives because I think it’s a perfect casserole to make during the holiday season. This dish is so delicious! You might want to add a green salad as a side, and dinner is done!
Have you tried our Easy Meat Lasagna with No-Boil Noodles? It too is perfect for the holiday season.
Also, for Gluten-Free, try our Best Zucchini Lasagna!
New Year’s Eve is around the corner, and we’re always looking for ways to feed the family with a delicious one-dish-meal during the holiday season. Try this one!
Whatever y’all doing this weekend, we hope it is filled with loved ones, family, and friends!
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xo Anna and Liz