This is the sort of thing I think I will have to make several times before I get it just right. It was good enough to post, but you’ll note that my polpette look a little raggedy – the “dough” needed to be just a hair stiffer than it was to hold together perfectly. However, they were very tasty and will get made again. I think this will be a good recipe for when the monster zucchini show up. Not yet; I made this a few days ago and had trouble scrounging up sufficient zucchini, but they are now rolling relentlessly into the kitchen and no doubt the day will come when I miss picking one.
It’s amazing; I think I have a reasonably good handle on Italian cuisine, for a non-Italian, but there is always more to discover. This kind of vegetable “meatball” is actually quite popular and there are all kinds of versions, even of the zucchini ones, and then there are all the other veggies that get made into polpette too. They come pan fried, deep fried, and baked. And yet, a recent discovery for me.
You could serve them without tomato sauce, but I thought that was an excellent way to have them, especially with the leftover bread from the crumbs made into garlic bread. That reminds me: you need fresh crumbs (which come from stale but actual bread), not those tiny dry particles of powdered completely dry bread. The batter should be stiff enough to form a nice, neat ball that stays together. Depending on how well-drained your zucchini gets, you may want to add a little flour to achieve that – as usual, I think I will try a little potato starch.
There is very little work to this dish, but it does require some resting times.
2 to 4 servings; 24 polpette
1 hour – 20 minutes prep time
450 grams (1 pound; 2 medium) zucchini
225 grams (1/2 pound) ricotta cheese
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
2 cups fine fresh bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
the finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh herb (basil, oregano OR thyme)
a little flour
oil to fry
Wash the zucchini and trim off the blossom end; grate coarsely. Salt the shreds in layers in a colander, and let drain for 20 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, egg, bread crumbs, and seasonings in a mixing bowl. When the zucchini have drained off a reasonable amount of liquid, squeeze them very dry by handfuls, and add them to the cheese batter. Mix very well. If the mixture seems sloppy, add a tablespoon or two of flour, although we are now going to let the batter rest for another 15 or 20 minutes, during which time it should get a bit thicker and firmer, so keep that in mind.
When you are ready to make the polpette, pour enough oil into a large skillet to generously cover the bottom. Heat over medium-high heat, and when it shimmers form the mixture into balls or patties and cook until nicely browned all over. Reduce the heat and cover the skillet with a lid; cook for another 4 to 6 minutes until the polpette are cooked through.
Serve as-is, or with hot tomato sauce. They would be nice with pasta, I’m sure. I’d also cheerfully eat leftovers in a sandwich, or even the first time around; why not?
Last year at this time I made Pasta with Swiss Chard & Feta Cheese.