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Cauliflower & tuna balls: the Italian passion for “polpette”!

tuna and cauliflower ballsConfession: every time I make a travel I leave my house saying: “No, this time I swear I won’t go to eat Italian!”… and every time I end up in an Italian restaurant asking myself  “why do they have spaghetti with meatballs in the menu??!!”

The reality is that we in Italy love “polpette” (that is of course the Italian name of meatballs) but I had them for the first with a dish of spaghetti only when we saw Walt Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp”. My brother loved so much the movie that he asked my mother to have a dish like the one in this picture …

lilli e il vagabondo

There are of course part of Italy where is common to cook polpette with pasta (my husband parents do that but their polpette are made with bread, not with meat … and they are really good!) Usually we make polpette with everything (and when I say “everything” I really mean everything!) and often fry them and eat them alone. We make polpette with rice (the famous Sicilian “arancini”), with eggplant, with potatoes… (the list is too long to continue!)

Polpette are a dish of humble origins: the first recipe to make them appears in a book in the XV century, clearly indicated as a good and easy way to recycle leftovers. During the centuries and with the increasing of economic prosperity they are no more a way to recycle, but an independent dish prepared with fresh ingredients and considered so important in Italian cuisine that a chef star as Bruno Barbieri (one of the judge in the Masterchef Italy competition) dedicated them an entire book.

As you certainly know, I’m not as good as Bruno Barbieri, but here you can find my recipe to make polpette with  cauliflower, tuna and black olives. If you love meatballs you won’t be disappointed from this new combination of flavors and they are perfect if you are organising a party and want to serve an original finger food (or, if your children didn’t like to eat veggie, try to serve these and the dish will soon be empty). Enjoy!

couliflower and tuna balls


– 1 cauliflower (about 350 g)

– 160 g of tuna (under olive oil)

– 50 g of black olives (finely chopped)

– 5 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

– 1 egg

– 2 tablespoons of capers

– parsley (finely chopped)

– oil and salt

Clean and cut the cauliflower, then put in salted boiling water until it becomes very tender. let cool and purée. Mash the tuna with a fork and add it to the cauliflower. Then add capers, parsley, black olives, the bread crumbles and the egg. Mix well and put the mixture in the fridge for an hour. Use your hands to form small balls and roll them into breadcrumbs. Fry them in oil and… enjoy!

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Yo…what a fabulous recipe!!! And so different from the ones I posted recently in my blog. Goes to show how different they can be yet taste so awesome every time.

    24 August 2012
  2. Bellezza4you - Luzbox #

    Interesting recipe, Cri. Good way to use those cauliflowers that I bought in order to feel fitter… hahahah

    23 September 2012

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