Maybe I didn’t drain the cauliflower rice enough, or maybe Gina from Skinnytaste is just way better at this than I am, but I apparently cannot make Cauliflower Rice (Arancini) Balls. I can, however, make a fantastic cauliflower rice mash/casserole…thing.

It all started well enough. I had my ingredients prepped and everything ready to turn into balls. In one bowl was a mix of frozen cauliflower shredded into “rice”, Italian chicken sausage, spices, tomato sauce, and lots of ooey, gooey mozzarella cheese. You are supposed to take these ingredients, form them into the shape of a ball, roll it in an egg base, and then roll it in another bowl filled with breadcrumbs and freshly shaved parmesan cheese. Put it on a baking sheet and voila! Faux Arancini balls! Easy!

Yeah, no…not easy. I took the mix and tried to form it into a ball. It was too wet to get compact and wouldn’t hold. Okay…let’s problem solve. Maybe I can mix some of the breadcrumbs into the mix to help it dry and bind a little better? Nope, that didn’t work. Okay, what if I form it into a ball as best as I can and roll it in the eggs and breadcrumbs anyways? No, that wasn’t happening either. What if I just squeeze the moisture out of the mix with my hands and then try again? Screw it…this is all going in a Pyrex, we’ll cover it with the breadcrumbs, and bake it like a casserole. Problem solved!

Arancini Balls

If you are more talented than I am, and are able to make balls, congratulations! You get a gold star! However, if you’re like me and mess it up, no worries! The “casserole” has the same delicious flavors and still tastes wonderful, no matter what the form! I mean, just look at the ingredients! Cheese, chicken sausage, tomato sauce (homemade, by the way!), Italian spices, and more cheese! There was enough cheese in the Arancini ball turned casserole to make it ooey gooey when you picked it up with your fork. The breadcrumbs were able to bind on top and add a nice crunch. All in all, I was very happy with the result!

Arancini Balls

To go with these Italian flavors and cheeses, I paired the meal with Tolaini’s 2012 Al Passo Super Tuscan. What is a Super Tuscan exactly? A Super Tuscan is a blend from Italy (specifically, Tuscany) that uses a mix of indigenous and non indigenous grapes. Usually, it’s Sangiovese (indigenous) mixed with a percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Syrah (non indigenous). Sangiovese is usually the primary grape, but a Super Tuscan has no rules, so it could be anything! The percentages are usually written on the label.

Tolaini’s 2012 Al Passo Super Tuscan

Tolaini’s Al Passo is a fantastic blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot. It is full of vanilla, berries, cherry and spice. Medium tannins with a medium finish make this wine easy to pair with so many dishes. Medium tannins ensure that you could pair it with softer flavors, such as the cauliflower or mozzarella, but also more acidic flavors, such as tomato sauce or parmesan. A mild Italian chicken sausage also works well with this medium tannin, as there is not as much fat as a regular Italian sausage, and would have been overshadowed with more tannins.

So what did we learn from all of this? Number one, I cannot make cauliflower into Arancini balls. Number two, the beginnings of a mess can turn into something delicious! This turned into a 5-grape pairing!

Wine: Tolaini’s 2012 Al Passo Super Tuscan ($20, Whole Foods)

Recipe: Cauliflower Rice (Arancini) Balls by Skinnytaste (Click the link to see what this was supposed to look like!)

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