May 032020

Ricotta Polpette “Meatless Meatballs”

Ricotta Polpette “Meatless Meatballs”

Makes about 30 generous-sized meatballs.

This recipe that originates in Calabria, Italy. The “meatballs” are made with ricotta cheese in place of meat and are part of the Italian “Cucina Povera” or poor kitchen…the food of the peasants. Those peasants had the right idea! I first had this dish amost 20 years ago in the kitchen of Nonna De Laurentiis at Casina Rossa in Abruzzo, Italy. It’s only fitting to serve these balls of savory goodness with one of Casina Rossa’s delicious sauces.


  • 2 pounds ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups breadcrumbs (more if needed)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Fior di Maiella Spicy Bruschetta Salt or other Italian seasoning mix.
  • 1 cup Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
  • 6 medium eggs


  1. Drain the ricotta cheese in a fine-mesh sieve for at least an hour to remove excess whey.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. If the mixture is too loose to form into balls, add a little more breadcrumbs until the mixture is easy to handle.
  4. Form into walnut-sized balls or ovals.
  5. Bake on a cookie tray for 25 minutes until firm.
  6. Remove meatballs and add to the simmering Casina Rossa sauce of your choice and heat through for about 15 minutes.
  7. If making ahead, remove meatballs and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. These Polpette can also be flash frozen on the tray and store in freezer bags for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, heat Polpette in the sauce of your choice.
  8. Serve over pasta or on their own with a generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese and basil chiffonade.

About Keli Sim DeRitis

Keli Sim DeRitis is an artist, designer, passionate cook, teacher, and tour guide. Keli founded Poggi Bonsi in 2001 to share her love of European travel, food, wine, and culture. Connect with me on Google+