Pallotte Cacio e Ovo (literally, balls with pecorino and egg….Yes doesn’t sound as evocative in English!) is a traditional dish from my mother’s village in the mountains of Abruzzo. Every Mamma and Nonna in Torricella Peligna has a treasured recipe for this humble dish that features stale bread as its key ingredient, and they all vehemently claim to be the keepers of the tastiest recipe. I am no exception, having inherited my great Aunt Italina’s method, which includes a chunk of bell pepper left to stew in the tomato sauce to add a touch of peppery robustness to this magnificent peasant meal.
INGREDIENTS, serves 4
For the dumplings
200 gr (about 2 cups) day-old Italian bread (such as pane di casa or ciabatta), crust removed, cut into chunks
250 ml (1 cup) of milk
160 gr (2 cups) of finely grated pecorino cheese
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley and 1/4 of chopped basil leaves
1 egg , lightly beaten
Olive oil to deep fry
salt and pepper to season
For the sauce
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 spring onions (scallions) roughly chopped
1/4 green capsicum (pepper) in 1 piece
1 garlic clove, finely chopped + 1 whole, bashed with the back of a knife
1 small celery stick, finely chopped
2 tins of tomatoes or 3 cups of home-made passata
salt and pepper to season
1. Soak the bread in milk for 20 minutes or until soft, then squeeze out any excess. Using your hands, break down the bread to a pulp
2. Combine bread with cheese, egg, herbs to form a sticky batter. Add salt and pepper to season. Rest in the fridge for 20 minutes
3. Meanwhile, for the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat
4. Cook, spring onion, garlic, celery and pepper, stirring for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Add tin tomatoes or passata, season with salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook gently for 20 minutes or until slightly reduced
5. Half fill a saucepan with olive oil and heat over medium high heat
6. Take the dumpling mixture out of the fridge, and, with wet hands, shape it into balls the size of a small mandarin
7. Deep fry the dumplings in batches until golden and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper
8. Add the cooked dumplings to the tomato sauce, cover with the lid and stand , off the heat, for at least 1 hour before serving to allow for the flavours to mingle and for the dumplings to soak up the sauce
9. When ready to serve, gently reheat the dumplings in the sauce, top with basil leaves and serve hot or warm
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16 Comments Add yours
You are a true Italian, Silvia. Make dumplings out of stale bread. What a great idea! The dish looks wonderful.
Thanks Jovina! We don’t like to waste in the kitchen, do we?
This looks amazing – I cannot wait to try it!
Thanks! Let me know when you do!
I live in San Francisco and want to purchase your book. How can I get a copy? It appears Penguin books does not ship outside of Australia. It it possible to charge send through Visa charge or pay pal?
Let me know.
Debra Malta San Francisco
thank you for your support. I am keeping my fingers crossed Amazon international will pick up distribution soon, so you can easily have the book sent to you at no additional cost.
All the best
I don’t think it gets any better than bread & sauce! This looks lovely Silvia, a beautiful peasant meal 🙂
Thanks Emilie! It is one of the most treasured family recipes, so happy you like it!
Looks gorgeous and delicious. Classic Italian flavors in one amazing dish
Grazie Bella, classic and simple, possibly my favourite combination!
Pure comfort food – this looks fabulous Silvia!
Thanks Laney! That’s one truth about Italian regional cooking!
I had Turkish pide bread left over, so I left the crusts on to soak in milk. Sorry it wasn’t fully Italian! It was a great hit, and now something I make regularly. Thank you.
ps with good bread left over I might add!
Ciao Silvia, sono abruzzese e da estimatore di pallotte cacio e ov ti dico che la ricetta e’ diversa. Anche noi abbiamo avuto difficolta’ a trovare gli ingredienti qui a Melbourne, pero’ alla fine abbiamo raggiunto un buon compromesso. Brava, ti guardiamo spesso in TV.
Caro Antonio, sono Abruzzese anche io e questa é la ricetta di mia zia, di Chieti. Ogni famiglia ha is suo metodo é questo é il bello della cucina regionale.