Polpette di Pane e Formaggio – Vegetarian Meatballs

IMG_0215This dish just shows the creativity of cucina povera, Italian poor cooking. Just some simple stale bread, a few herbs, spices, common ingredients and it becomes something absolutely wonderful. My 13 year old son, for whom the idea of vegetarian cooking is almost beyond comprehension, loves these so much we often fight over the last one! We call them Polpette di Lupo, or wolf balls, alluding to the expression ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ because that’s exactly what they are; they look like meatballs but aren’t. I know it’s currently his favorite vegetarian meal and it’s also a fun time in the kitchen because it’s a great meal to get a little family help with. As a former omnivore, I can honestly say that even if I was still eating meat I’d take these over meatballs anytime! You could even make these a little smaller and serve them as an appetizer for your next party.


  • 8 slices Bread, cubed
  • 2 Scallions, diced
  • 1 tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp Parsley flakes
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1/4 cup Mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup Milk

IMG_0205After cubing my bread, I spread it out on a cookie sheet and place it into a 375F oven for about 17 minutes, just enough to drive away the excess moisture and start to toast a few of the pieces. You could also cut it up the day before and leave them out over night. If you use the oven method, leave it on, otherwise preheat it. I put them into a large bowl along with all the IMG_0206dry ingredients, then add the egg, give a few stirs and lastly start adding the milk. By this point it’s best to mix with your hands, it’ll give you a feel for the consistency as you don’t want it like a paste but more like a lumpy dough.


IMG_0207After mixing, grab a small amount and roll it between the palms of your hands, forming balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. I was able to make 10 balls in total using the above measurements. Once they’re formed, I fry 5 at a time in oil in a small sauce pan on the stove until the outside becomes a nice golden to IMG_0211medium brown. When done, I place the polpette in the oven at 375F, baking for 16 minutes, just enough to ensure everything is heated through. I used the cooking time to bring my water to boil, cook my pasta and heat my sauce, making sure that everything was taste tested and approved by S along the way. I timed everything so I could remove the polpette from the oven and place them into my heated sauce before straining my pasta. I plated my pasta along with the polpette, topped them with a little sauce and more grated cheese. I really hope you enjoy this as much as me and my family do! Thank you so much for reading, I look forward to sharing my next recipe with you!





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