Friday, November 7, 2008

Nanny's Baked Rice and A Rice Cooker

Image Hosted by

Fridays during lent are always meat free for Catholics and when you get tired of pizza or ailo oilo (pasta with garlic and oil) you need to use a bit of creativity. Nanny would make some white rice, mix it with sauce, mozzarella and grated cheese, put it in a pyrex, top it with some breadcrumbs and bake it until the top becomes crispy. It was always very satisfying for me. When I decided to make this for Steve the first time I knew that he would want a little more added to it for it to be considrered a whole meal. That's how I came up with this. Nanny's version is like a rice ball and mine is like a sicilian rice ball. Make this either way or both ways, they are both great. If you don't like peas you can leave them out or put less in. When I made this last night I only had a couple of handfuls of peas in my freezer and it was still great.

Thanks to my friends over at Bakespace I purchased a rice cooker and used it for the first time yesterday. Eric found this great deal for a 3 cup rice cooker for only $9.99!!!

Image Hosted by

It was great! I never have to worry about my rice being too mushy ever again! The best part is that it's small enough for me to find a space for in the closet. That was my biggest concern but it turned out to not to be an issue at all. Thanks Eric and all my bakespace friends!

Nanny's Baked Rice


1 cup of white rice, uncooked
1 can crushed tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 lb 85% ground beef
1 small package of frozen peas, defrosted
salt and pepper
garlic powder
onion powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp sugar
1 package of shredded mozzarella
Parmesan cheese, to taste
Italian Style breadcrumbs


Cook rice, set aside. Meanwhile in a small saucepan sauté onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add basil and let it cook for 1 minute to let flavor release. Add tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and sugar; if too thick add a little water (swish in can). Let cook for 30 to 40 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. While sauce is cooking prepare ground beef. Season beef with salt pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder and brown in a nonstick pan (no oil needed if using a nonstick pan). Be sure to constantly break up meat with a wooden spoon. Drain fat. Ladle a little sauce on the bottom of a large rectangular Pyrex dish to prevent rice from sticking. In a large bowl combine rice, mozzarella, ground beef, peas and Parmesan cheese, adding a little sauce at a time. Do not want it to be too wet or too dry. May not need to use all the sauce. Add mixture to baking dish, spreading out and pressing down with spatula. Sprinkle top with bread crumbs and cheese.

Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes. Place under broiler to crisp the top if necessary

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by


Sisters Savings said...

This looks sooooo delicious! My kind of cold weather meal....I love things that bake...prepare early in the day as time permits, throw it in the oven and dinner is ready!

Michele said...

You know, that's a great point that I should have added. This is definitely great to prepare ahead, it's also great for freezing, just leave off the breadcrumb topping until your ready to bake it.

Bob said...

That looks awesome. I love the idea of prepping it ahead of time too. Good stuff Michele!

Pat said...

Michelle, I never thought to make a rice ball mixture in a casserole dish! What a good idea -- it makes it so easy to prepare that way and everyone can take the serving size they want.

Sophie said...

This is such a cool idea :)! I loove rice, especially when there's a bunch of yummy ingredients in it!

Aggie said...

I love this! I grew up eating the Sicilian rice balls, now I can make them in a casserole like this! Looks delicious!

Dana M 090808 said...

This was a great recipe for a delicious meal!!! Lenny and I enjoyed it and I am sure I will be making it for a long time so that Joseph can enjoy it too!!! Love you! Thanks for the great recipes!

Michele said...

Yay! Thanks everyone! It's so great to hear that people actually try these recipes! Nanny would be so happy!