Baked cannellini balls

3G actually likes these ones! I keep trying new recipes on him, but he is so fussy about texture, of all things… he asks for the leftovers of these super-healthy balls!


Makes about 30


2 x 400g cans cannellini beans
1 small red onion, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 egg yolks (or 1 large egg, if you’re not hoarding whites for macarons)
2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
1/2 – 2/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
approx. 60g Asiago, cut into 1cm cubes


Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking try with parchment.

Rinse and drain the beans well, then use a fork to mash them together with the onion, garlic, egg yolks and herbs. Season well. Add breadcrumbs bit by bit until you get a mixture that holds together.

Form the mixture into ping-pong-sized balls, stuffing each one with a cube of Asiago, and place on baking tray.

Bake for about 30 minutes, turning carefully halfway, until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, prepare whatever sauce you want to serve – I made a simple tomato sauce of garlic fried in butter and olive oil to which I added a big jar of passata and a bunch of chopped herbs then simmered for about 20 minutes.

Gently drop the balls into the simmering sauce, turn to coat and cook over low heat for a further 10 minutes.

Serve over pasta or polenta, in a bowl with some crusty bread or in a sub.

Polpette di Melanzane

These beauties make a fantastic meal served with a traditional tomato sauce either on their own or over pasta or polenta, or stuck with toothpicks and served as an appetiser with dipping sauces.


Makes about 30


4 medium eggplants (aubergines)
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
3 – 4 cloves garlic, crushed
bunch flat leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 – 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
Olive oil for frying


Preheat oven to 180°C.

Wash the eggplants and prick them all over with a fork. Place them in a baking dish and dry bake them for about 50 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are quite shrivelled. When done, set aside to cool.

Cut the tops off the eggplants and peel off the skin – it should come away in strips. Roughly chop the flesh and put it in a large bowl.

Using a hand mixer or food processor, mash the eggplant until it’s just a little bit lumpy. You can make it smooth if you like, but I prefer a bit of texture.

Stir in the cheese, eggs, garlic and parsley, then season to taste. Mix everything together thoroughly then start adding dry breadcrumbs bit by bit. How much you need will depend on the wetness of everything else, obviously, but you don’t want the mixture too loose or too stiff – if pressed in your hand it should stay together.

Take golf ball sized handfuls of mixture and roll between your palms into balls and place on a baking dish or large plate.

Pour a generous glug of olive oil into a heavy skillet – enough to cover the bottom – and heat until shimmering. Fry he balls in batches until golden brown then put on paper towel to drain.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a tomato or other sauce.

Ricotta gnudi

Homemade ricotta is perfect for these gnudi, but if you buy some, try to get a good crumbly ricotta rather than the super creamy stuff in the tub, which would need to be well drained. Crispy exterior, fluffy interior, delicate flavour. Gnudi are great with a sauce or a salad.


Makes about 24


500g ricotta
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten together
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
Olive oil for frying


Mix ricotta, eggs, salt, Parmigiano Reggiano and parsley in a large bowl until well combined. Add flour and stir just until combined and mixture comes together, adding a little bit more flour if it feels too wet.

Shape tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for about an hour, until firm.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

Simmer the gnudi in two or three batches for about 4 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove gnudi from water and drain on paper towel.

Heat a good splash of olive oil in a large skillet and fry the gnudi until golden.

We served ours with a warm salad of grilled veggies and a loaf of fresh bread.


This entry was posted in gnocchi, italian, pasta. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Balls!

  1. I still have not posted my daring cooks challenge but I am drooling over all your wonderful creations!
    They are all a must try, to be honest I have never tried making “meatballs” without meat but these all sound and look amazing!!

  2. What a lovely collection of balls but the ricotta ones really calling to me. A wondrous effort. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  3. aishazd says:

    mmmmm they look delicious!!

  4. Okay, so with a title like that I HAD to click on it! And, as I knew I would be, I’m glad I did! haha

    I love meatballs, and all of these look incredible! Thanks for sharing (and the laugh)!

    I hope you will link up this wonderful recipe and others at my Foodie Friday Blog Hop at A Room for Two with a View. I know my readers would love it!

    Have a fantastic Foodie Friday and a wonderful weekend!


  5. Shelley C says:

    Oh, man, it is so hard to pick a favorite out of those three delicious options. I think the bean ones are calling to me, but you can never go wrong with ricotta! Simple solution – I’ll just have to try them all!! Thanks so much for cooking with us this month!

  6. Well what can I say, except “amazeballs!” (sorry!) Honestly, these are great recipes Rachael. All three of them are pretty cool and I can’t wait to try them!

  7. andy says:

    great job! I love all the options.

  8. I love it – Beanballs, Cheeseballs and Aubergineballs! Great selection of recipes for Balls.

  9. Monkeyshines says:

    Great job on this month’s challenge – everything looks very healthy and tasty, and I have to make those eggplant balls sometime! (We always use something like your ‘dry roast’ technique when making eggplant for moussaka – so much better than drowning them in oil…)

  10. They look so yummy! Do you think I could bake them instead of frying?

  11. Sondi Hardy says:

    Thank you for making non-Meat ones. They look lovely. 🙂

  12. Suz says:

    Your title made me laugh, and these are some beautiful balls. 🙂 The ingredients list for each sounds fabulous, especially the ricotta and aubergine ones. I didn’t know it until today, but I HAVE to try aubergine balls!

  13. Caroline says:

    How much would you say the eggplants weighed ? There is so much variation in size and we almost always use the Japanese eggplant. TIA…I love your blog. c

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