Yesterday I had was flipping through La Cucina and came upon the recipe for Polpette Di Pane (Bread Balls in Tomato Sauce). I had a half loaf of Italian bread just sitting on the counter. I had some tomatoes that I wanted to use up so I made the recipe. The recipe is from the Puglia region of Italy.
Later in the afternoon I was going through some Bon Appetit magazines and came upon the article, Less is More, Italian Style, in the May 2010 issue (the story is not available online). It was about Puglia region and the creativity of Italian peasant food. The style of cooking is, according to the article, cucina prover, “cuisine of the poor.” And the most important commandment is: Waste nothing and stretch everything. Gee it reminds me of the stories both my parents told of growing up in the Depression. My dad grew up on a farm and I am sure that was the commandment in his mother’s kitchen.
Polpette Di Pane
(Bread Balls in Tomato Sauce)
1 1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
3 1/4 San Marzano Plum tomatoes, seeded and crushed
1 tbsp. chopped basil
1 1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
5 large eggs, beaten
1 tbsp. grated pecorino
About 6 oz. stale bread (not too soft, not too hard: about 2 days old, grated
Prepare a sauce by cooking the onions and tomatoes in a pan over low heat without seasoning; when they have released their liquid but not colored pass them through a food mill. Return them to the pan and cook again for about 10 minutes with 1 teaspoon basil (or parsley), 1/4 cup olive oil, and salt. (I do not own a food mill so I used an immersion blender to puree the sauce.)
Mix the eggs in a bowl with salt, cheese and the rest of the basil. Add the bread and work together to form a soft dough. Make the dough into balls, then flatten them. Heat the remaining olive in a pan and saute the bread balls until golden. Drain on paper towels then add them to the tomato sauce. Cook for 10 minutes at low heat.