Italian (Sicilian) Rice Balls w/ Chicken, Peas & Tomato Sauce

Rice balls are fabulous as a side dish or an entrée. This dish can be modified in various ways; for a healthier version opt for ground turkey or chicken rather than beef, or if you are a vegetarian omit the meat altogether. We hope you enjoy our first Italian recipe!

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef / turkey / chicken
1 jar of tomato sauce
2 tsp salt
1 bag sticky rice
½ bag frozen peas
1 small brick of mozzarella cheese
2 tsp parmesan cheese
1 small onion chopped
1 tbsp garlic finely chopped
1 package of bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying

Directions

Sauté the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes with a little oil, then add the ground meat. Sauté the meat until it is fully cooked. Season the meat with a pinch of salt.

In the meantime, begin to boil the frozen peas in a pot of water on the stovetop.

Cook the rice on the stovetop. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package. Once the rice is cooked, add some tomato sauce a little at a time to ensure that the rice remains sticky. Then add the parmesan cheese and mix well. Let the rice cool for 5 minutes. The rice needs to be fairly hot to make it easier to work with when forming the rice balls.

Place the bread crumbs into a large casserole dish. Cut up the mozzarella into small cubes and place into a bowl. Place the cooked meat and peas into two separate bowls.

Form a ball of rice in the palm of your hand. Insert your finger into the ball, and place a small amount of peas, ground meat, and 1-2 cubs of cheese into the middle of the ball. Close the ball by adding more rice.

Roll the ball into the bread crumbs until the ball is completely covered.

Fill the deep fryer pot with vegetable oil and place the rice balls into the oil until the ball becomes a light brown colour, approx 5-8 minutes.

Heat up the tomato sauce and generously slather some sauce on each ball before you serve.

ENJOY!

Swiss Chard and Black Eyed Beans

Here is another wonderful vegetarian dish that uses only a few simple and healthy ingredients. Both Swiss chard and black eyed beans are rich in nutrients and very high in fiber. In Greece, this dish is usually eaten as the main meal, but it also makes a great side dish.

About 1½ cup of black eyed beans
Half a bunch of Swiss chard
1 medium onion chopped
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 cup of tomato juice
Pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper

Wash and strain the black eyed beans and place them in a pot of boiling water for about 5 to 10 minutes (the time really depends on the beans; some beans need longer than others).

Chop the Swiss chard into small cubes. Wash and strain the Swiss chard and place the leaves in a separate pot of boiling water for about 3-4 minutes.

Once the Swiss chard had finished blanching, remove the leaves from the heat and strain the water. Do the same with the black eyed beans.

In a medium sized pot, place the oil and onions. Over a medium heat setting, sauté the onions for about 2-3 minutes. Add the beans to the pot and stir for a few minutes. Add a dash of salt and pepper and, if you like a little extra kick, add a pinch of hot pepper flakes. After about 2 minutes, add the Swiss chard and stir. Add the tomato juice and 2 cups of water and stir well. Once the water has begun to boil, cover the pot with the lid and lower the heat. At a low heat setting, allow the beans and Swiss chard to simmer for about 45 minutes to one hour (while stirring periodically). The beans need to cook until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Makes 4 servings.