Sformato di riso con polpettine di cernia

Rice timbale with stone bass balls   Our original home cooking

The recipe for this rice timbale with grouper is rather laborious, but the satisfaction for you will be very high. It is certainly impressive, to be made when you can spend more time at home or for a special occasion. It is ideal for your Christmas dinner. The dish is great, not stodgy and therefore suitable for all ages. It is linked to the best Mediterranean tradition, in which rice is accompanied by sea-fish and a lot of aromatics and spices of our cuisine. Other recipes with rice? risotto? Italian rice salad? or other timbales?
Rice timbale with stone bass balls
Rice timbale with grouper balls

Ingredients / Serves 8

  • For your "risotto"
  • 400g (14 ounces) long-grain, parboiled rice
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried chives
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 100ml (3 1/3 fluid ounces) dry white wine
  • 1 l (2.1 pints - 4 1/4 cups) vegetable stock
  • 450g (1 pound) frozen spinach
  • For the stone bass balls
  • 250g (8 3/4 ounces) stone bass fillets
  • 1 egg
  • Plain dried breadcrumbs
  • Fresh balm-mint, finely chopped (or dried)
  • Salt
  • For the molds
  • Butter
  • Plain dried breadcrumbs
  • For the sauce
  • 400g (14 ounces) chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 100ml (3 1/3 fluid ounces) dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried chives
  • 2 teaspoons dried laurel
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • Half a glass of warm water
  • 200g (7 ounces) can peas
  • Time:
    preparation: 80-90 minutes
    cooking: 1 hour
    total: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Difficulty:
    laborious recipe
  • How many calories in a serving?
    Calories: 402 (kcal) 21 % GDA (*)- 1681 (kJ)
    Protein: 12.3 (g) 25 % GDA
    Total fat: 17.2 (g) 25 % GDA
    Total carbohydrate: 52.7 (g) 20 % GDA
    Sugars: 2.9 (g) 4 % GDA

Look at infographic of nutrition facts

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Recipe for rice timbale with groupn balls

Preparation and cooking

  • - Prepare spinach.
    Steam spinach for 10 minutes still frozen.
    I prefer to steam rather than boiling them too avoid they're water-soaked.
  • - Prepare grouper (stone bass) balls.
    Fish fillets should be passed through a mincer.
    If you don't have a mincer, you may purée the fish in a blender or food processor with all the other ingredients.
    However, in the first case, you can understand better the right quantity of plain dried breadcrumbs (about 2 tablespoons) you have to add in order to obtain a mixture suited to make 1cm (1/2in) size balls.
    Wet you hands before rolling the mixture into your little balls!
    Pour the olive oil into a large non-stick frying pan and arrange the little balls in.
    Simmer them over a low flame, stirring delicately not to break, for 10 minutes or until they are brown on all sides.
    At this point turn off the stove and take away the fish balls from the pan with a skimmer ladle.
  • - Prepare the sauce.
    Scrap up any sediment from the bottom of the pan.
    Add all the other ingredients, necessary for the sauce, and cook, half-covered, for about 20 minutes over a low flame.
    At this point add the little fish balls and let them become tasty in the sauce.
    Turn off the stove only when the cooking water is well reduced.
  • - Prepare your risotto.
    Meanwhile you are cooking the sauce, you can prepare the risotto.
    Prepare the stock according to your habits.
    Store it boiling while you're cooking your risotto.
    Meanwhile purée the spinach in a blender or food processor until smooth.
    Add olive oil and rice in a large saucepan.
    Cook for 3-4 minutes until rice looks milky.
    Add wine, and simmer until absorbed, stirring.
    At this point add puréed spinach and 1 ladleful of vegetable stock; simmer until absorbed, stirring.
    Keep adding stock, ladle by ladle, until rice is tender.
    Remember! You have to stir frequently because risotto with spinach tends to stick on the bottom of the pot.
  • - Bake your timbale.
    Meanwhile you are cooking risotto and sauce, you could prepare 2 molds.
    You have to butter them and then sprinkle with plain dried breadcrumbs.
    Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F).
    When the risotto is ready, line your molds with a thick layer of rice, aiding yourself with a spatula.
    Remember to leave about a quarter aside with which to finish off the timbale.
    Spoon the filling (sauce with little balls) in the hollow.
    Cover with the rest of the rice and press very well.
    Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a nice, golden crust forms.

Just before serving

  • - Remove your timbale from the oven and wait for 5 minutes before overturning on the serving plate.
    Serve it hot.



  • - You can't cool excessively your timbale and so you can't expect to slice it perfectly. After all the coup d'oeil is guaranteed and the admiration and wonder of your guests will be all for you!
  • - This dish can be prepared for 4 people too. It's enough to halve its doses.
  • - You can make this baked rice with a little salt or without salt for the richness of herbs and their perfume.
  • - I always suggest to prepare vegetable broth at home. Just boil a carrot, an onion and a stalk of celery. It is much more healthy than the broth made with stock cube. :))

Menu planning

  • - If you prepare this rice timbale with stone bass for your family menu, it is one-plate meal.
  • - If you decide to prepare it for a special occasion you have to combine it with other fish dishes from starter to second course.
    It's special for Holiday Season according to me. You can find some suggestions in menus of mine already published (Italian Christmas dinner menus). I've the habit to choose it for Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve dinner menu (fish menu ideas).
    You can read another way to serve this rice dish in a menu idea for a birthday, my birthday!

Healthy eating

  • - Read these notes only if you prepare the rice timbale for your family menu. You don't worry about nutrition facts if you're planning a menu for a special occasion.
    I've just written it is one-plate meal. Just look at calories and fat. To complete your menu serve a green salad dressed with a little olive oil and seasonal fruit.
    The rice timbale with grouper is quite well balanced and it contains all key nutrients.
  • - Fiber content per serving: 3.4 grams (daily requirement is 23g). This fact reminds us that in the other meals of the day you have to favor fruits and vegetables to balance your nutrient supply.


What's the right wine for " Rice timbale with stone bass balls "?

My husband and I match Isonzo Riesling Renano (white wine from Friuli - Italy) with this rice timbale.