Crispy baked brown-rice “meatballs” with chunky tomato sauce + fresh spinach (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Flavored with Mediterranean herbs, these crunchy nuggets definitely satisfy. Feel free to sub seasonings from any world cuisine. To form the balls, you need to use short-grain rice because it turns sticky when cooked (leftover cooked short-grain rice works, too). You can broil the balls instead of baking them, but keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Ingredients
  • short-grain brown rice
  • homemade tomato sauce or store-bought
  • olive oil
  • dried rosemary
  • dried thyme
  • dried oregano
  • fennel seeds
  • dried sage
  • red pepper flakes or chile powder
  • smoked paprika
  • kosher salt
  • baby spinach leaves
Method
  1. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stove top according to the package directions. Set aside until the rice is cool enough to handle.
  2. Meanwhile, make or warm the tomato sauce. Keep warm.
  3. Preheat the toaster oven or oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and lightly oil.
  4. Place the cooked rice in a large bowl. Season with rosemary, thyme, oregano, fennel, sage, red pepper flakes, paprika, and salt and stir to combine.
  5. Using moist hands, roll a tablespoonful or so of the rice mixture into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining rice mixture. Bake until the balls are crispy all over, checking and turning them every 10 minutes or so.
  6. To serve, place a handful of spinach leaves in the bottom of individual bowls and top with the warm tomato sauce and several rice balls.  Enjoy!
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