For dinner today, the family decided to be lazy and have frozen pasta with pre-made Olivieri Four Cheese Sauce. Well, I suppose I shouldn't call them lazy, because they do usually whip up dinner from scratch and they do work very hard so once in a while it is nice to make a quick, easy and satisfying meal. Besides, it gives us more time to bond during the meal without being utterly exhausted after having created a masterful feast. But, being a foodie, I simply would not be satisfied until at least one dish was made by my own two hands and not manufactured. I always find it hard to pick the perfect pairing of appetizer to accompany the main dish... especially when it's pasta. The food that came to mind when I thought pasta-accompaniment was garlic bread. Booo! That would definitely not be a challenging enough dish to prepare... all that involves is sliced french-bread, roasted garlic, parsley and paremsan cheese... no fun, no fun at all. So, my only option was to surf the web for italian appetizers and that's when I discovered the rice fritter!!
Rice Fritters (Makes 12 golf-ball sized fritters)
- 3 cups leftover rice (arborio rice works well, or you can use any moist rice that holds together)
- Twelve 1/2-inch cubes of your favorite cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup panko crumbs
- 3 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- A pinch of salt and pepper, to taste
1. Work with the room-temperature leftover rice and divide your rice into 12 equal portions.
2. Shape each portion into a flattened circle and place a create a well in the center
3. Place a cheese cube in the well, and then roll up the rice ball until the cheese is hidden in the middle.
Note: If the rice is sticking to your hands, use seran-wrap to help you mold the rice. Place the rice in the center of a seran-wrap square and then bring all the edges of the seran together, twist and squeeze the rice into a neat (non-messy) ball.
4. Perform steps 2 and 3 for all of the rice-ball portions.
5. In a small bowl, combine the panko, parmesan, salt & pepper, and parsley. In a separate small bowl, crack in the egg and lightly beat.
6. Dip each rice-ball into the beaten egg, into the panko-mix and then place on a tin-foil lined baking sheet.
7. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 15minutes to help the egg and panko crust to set.
8. Remove sheet from fridge and bake the rice fritters at 350F for 15-20minutes, or until nicely goldened and crisp.
My sisters first reaction to the strange side-dish was "what are those round things?" When I told that they were rice fritters they were a bit skeptical and hesitant to try them. But then I announced that there was cheese inside and all was good. They dove in and were ready to taste the cheesey goodness... not sure what it is with kids and cheese :P The rice fritters were good plain, but they were even better when they were dipped in a marinara sauce. Any ol' generic marinara sauce will do, it's just that the tomato and the cheese combined is simply divine! Try it for yourself and see...