Ham Meatball Casserole with Baked Rice

I’m still thinking of ways to use up the ham that I froze from the holidays.  This recipe is my spin on my mom’s 1960s chicken and rice casserole recipe.  All the flavors I love from my aunts’ Italian meat, bean, and vegetable dish (minestra) are included, plus a couple extra ingredients that I could resist including.

Ham Meatball Casserole

Ham Meatball Casserole with Baked Rice

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 8

This is a one delicious comfort meal. You could add spinach to the rice, for an extra veggie boost. And if you're not in the mood to fuss with meatballs, use chicken pieces, like the original 1960s recipe calls for.


  • 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 4-5 cups ham, cubed
  • 1 (14 oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped spinach, squeezed fairly dry
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 TBSP granulated garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP granulated onion powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp rubbed sage
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • Casserole
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 (14 oz) box Pacific Cream of Celery soup
  • 1 (14 oz) box Pacific Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1 (14 oz) box Pacific Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, milk, or chicken broth


  1. For this recipe, the food processor is your best friend. I used it to prepare a lot of the ingredients.
  2. To make fresh breadcrumbs, place small pieces of good artisan bread in food processor. Then process to very small pieces. Pour them into large bowl.
  3. Now process the ham and place it in the bowl with the breadcrumbs. I processed it in 2 batches, and added the beans to the second batch.
  4. Add the rest of the meatball ingredients to the bowl. Mix well, being careful not to over mix. Form into about 16 large meatballs, and set them aside.
  5. Casserole
  6. In a greased baking dish, place uncooked long grain rice.
  7. In a bowl, mix all three soups together. Pour 1/2 the mixture over the rice and mix well. Then spread evenly over the bottom of the baking dish.
  8. Place the meatballs on the rice.
  9. Mix milk with the remaining soup mixture, and pour over meatballs and rice.
  10. Cover baking dish and bake at 350 for 1 hour 15 minutes. Uncover and cook another 15 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Rice will be moist.