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ITALIAN ARANCINI-STYLE RICE CASSEROLE

A wonderful weeknight casserole for everyone.

If you've ever had a Sicilian arancini rice ball you know how wonderful this simple mouthful can be. Our recipe* takes its cue from them and gives you a whole meal to savour. 

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups uncooked basmati rice
1 tsp Kosher salt
4 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed and broken into smaller pieces 
1/4 cup sweet onion, peeled, and finely diced 
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 cups "best" marinara sauce - store bought is fine
cup freshly grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fine bread crumbs (Panko is great)
1 cup grated fresh mozzarella cheese

    DIRECTIONS:

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook rice according to the package directions. Set aside to cool. Do not rinse. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil. When heated, add sausage and cook, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to pan. Reduce heat to medium, then add onions and cook until very lightly golden. Then add sausage mixture, 1 cup marinara sauce combine and cook for 15 minutes. Then add peas to mixture and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

    In a separate large bowl combine the cooked rice, 1 cup marinara, Parmesan, and eggs. Set aside. Brush 9x13 inch baking dish with olive oil. Add 2 tbsp of bread crumbs and spread on base and sides to coat. Spread half the rice mixture on base and sides of casserole dish, pressing to make firm. Then spread the sausage-pea mixture, evenly, in one layer. Spread 3/4 cup grated mozzarella. Add remaining rice mixture and spread until even. Then layer on remaining marinara sauce. Add 2 tbsp breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup grated mozzarella across all parts of dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Drizzle with your favourite infused olive oils.

    *****This recipe was inspired by https://www.themediterraneandish.com with our usual adaptations.