Meatballs, or polpette di carne, are awesome. Full stop. Have them with a dollop of gorgonzola-covered polenta, in a fast-food-classic sub-sandwich, served in salads or simply with spaghetti. They are delicious in every way. However, with mrs fp being a pescatarian – queue the violin – opportunities for eating them always look bleak.
But if you take a step back and look under the meatball bonnet, what you see is that their richness mainly comes from the sauce they’re cooked in as well as the herbs and spices packed in with the mince.
With polpette calling out for a revival in the fatpastard household, I was in need of a recipe to help me do so. This one is based on the veggie-favourite falafel, and packs a mighty punch of fresh flavours from the peninsula. Trust me, you won’t regret dirtying the food processor.
Serves 4; Prep time 15 mins, cook time 30 mins.
250g of chickpeas, drained
a good bunch of fresh basil
30g of pine nuts
40g of Pecorino cheese, grated
50g of Kalamata/Taggiasca olives, pitted
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons of plain flour
50g of breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
In a food processor add the chickpeas, basil, garlic, onion, olives and pine nuts. Blitz until you have a cous cous like mixture, not a paste. You may need to do this in batches.
Tip into a bowl and add the lemon juice, pecorino, flour, breadcrumbs and egg. Mix well until the mixture is even and well combined.
Cover and place in the fridge for an hour to let the flavours infuse. If you can leave longer that will help the consistency and flavour.
Scoop out a little mixture at a time and using your hands shape into small, walnut sized, polpette. Lightly baste each with a little olive oil.
When ready, heat a few glugs of olive oil in a frying pan, or as its bbq season, fire up the flat griddle on the barbie.
Lightly fry a few polpette at a time, and cook evenly by turing them regularly so as not to burn – although a few crispy burnt bits wont hurt. As they become crispy and golden, scoop out and lay on a paper towel to absorb some of the excess oil.
Allow to cool for a few minutes. As they cool you’ll find this helps the polpette become sturdier.
And that my friend, is you done.
You can do all sorts with these little nuggets. Toss them into a summer salad, or alternatively have them with some nice gooey gorgonzola polenta and a rich tomato sauce. Buon appetito!