Family Recipe: Polpette di Pane (Bread Meatballs)

Top with your Sunday sauce, and savor every flavorful bite.

By: John Viola, Italian American Podcast 

Nothing’s more Italian American than a big pot of Sunday Sauce (or Gravy, if that’s your thing) cooking all morning and loaded with all your favorite meats. But, as many of us are rationing our sausages, meatballs and the like, why not try an ancient Italian recipe for these meatless meatballs!

Bread Meatballs (Polpette di Pane)


-1 loaf of bread (any type will do, but preferably a little stale or dried out)

-1 cup whole milk

-6 eggs

-1 cup chopped parsley (fresh, frozen, or dried)

-8 oz. shredded mozzarella*

-1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano, pecorino romano, or alternative hard grating cheese

-Salt and pepper to taste

-3 cloves garlic

-Olive oil for frying

*Note: With some ingredients being difficult to come by, I’m using Polly-O™ shredded mozzarella. If you’re lucky enough to have fresh mozzarella on hand, just make sure its as dried out as possible.


-Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

-Cut or tear the inside of the bread loaf into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl.

-Cover with 1 cup whole milk and let soak.

-Beat the eggs, parsley, salt and pepper into a mixture.

-Pour mixture into soaked bread and mix into a paste.

-Add both cheeses and continue to mix thoroughly.

-Form the mixture into “polpette” and place on an oiled cookie sheet.

-Bake for 20-30 minutes.

-On low heat, sauté 3 gloves of crushed garlic in a frying pan of olive oil.

-When the garlic has turned golden brown, remove from the oil.

-Fry the “polpette” in the oil, browning on all sides as you would with a traditional meatball.

-Finish in the oven at 375 F.

-Remove and let drain, and store polpette overnight to achieve meatball texture.


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