A traditional dish of Abruzzo, these bread-cheese-egg balls have assumed classical status and are now intepreted across central Italy where fresh tomatoes make the difference between an excellent sauce and an mediocre sauce. We recommend fresh tomatoes but for convenience passata is acceptable.
The ratio between bread and cheese, and the amount of eggs, determine the differences across the households and trattoria where these balls are the first plate on lunch menus. With that difference in mind we present two recipes for the balls, one heavy with bread and one heavy with cheese.
Black pepper is also personal, and we have decided these balls need the extra aromatic flavour.
- 500 g tomato passata / tomatoes, peeled, chopped
- 250 ml vegetable broth
- 100 g onions, chopped
- 1 tsbp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped small
- 1 tbsp basil (optional)
- 5 g black pepper
- 5 g salt
Gently fry the onions in the oil for about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for a few minutes.
Add the passata or tomatoes, broth and seasonings, cover and simmer over a low heat until the mixture begins to thicken and resemble a sauce. Add, if using, the basil at this stage.
Balls – Bread (firm)
- 150 g stale bread, cubed
- 130 g (x 2) eggs
- 75 g parmigiano cheese, grated
- 75 g pecorino cheese, grated
- 60 g 00 flour
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 small garlic clove, mashed
- 10 g parsley, chopped small
- 5 g black pepper to taste
- 5 g salt
In a large bowl combine the bread, eggs, cheeses, garlic and seasonings. Work the mixture until it is firm and homogeneous. Work the parsley into the mixture. Divide into 30 g pieces, shape into perfect spheres, the size of large walnuts.
Spinkle four tablespoons of 00 flour onto a large plate.
Heat the oil in a small saucepan.
Gently pass the balls through the flour, add about five at a time to the oil. Roll the balls in the oil to brown them all over.
Place several sheets of kitchen paper on a plate. With a slotted spoon remove the balls to the kitchen paper.
Add the balls to the sauce pot.
Repeat the process with the remaining balls.
Cook the balls in the sauce for about 30 minutes, until they have swollen considerably and the sauce has thickened a little more.
Ovals – Cheese (soft)
- 250 g caciotta vaccina frentana / semi-cured cow’s milk cheese, grated
- 180 g (x 3) eggs
- 150 g pecorino cheese, grated
- 75 g stale bread soaked in 75 ml milk, squeezed
- 1 small garlic clove, fine chopped
- 15 g olive oil
- 1 tbsp parsley, fine chopped
In a large bowl whisk the eggs into a smooth consistency, add garlic, bread and parsley. Gradually fold in the cheeses, work into a homogenous dough. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Using 2 tablespoons, shape a tablespoon of the dough into an oval, place on a tray. Repeat with remaining dough.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and, when it is hot, fry the ovals until they are golden-brown.
Place several sheets of kitchen paper on a plate. With a slotted spoon remove the ovals to the kitchen paper.
Add the ovals to the sauce pot.
Cook in the sauce until they are heated through.