I love this dish by chef Massimo Bruno and the Italian name for them but something is lost in translation by calling them ‘egg balls!’
I had some friends coming over after work for a glass of wine and thought this looked easy enough to pull together without a lot of advance preparation or shopping. I had first considered digging out my little frying machine (with some dread) but I decided to try making them on the stovetop and they fried just perfectly in a large skillet.
In a hurry one night to make these for last minute company; I did what I would call a ‘Sandra Lee’ and used a jar of good sauce already seasoned with garlic and basil that I had in the pantry.
I warmed it, added some fresh basil (easy because I grow it in the summer) and some additional water and then finished the dish per instructions. I can not say I could discern a huge difference…and in truth is what I’ll do more often.
They are easy; from start to finish only about 30 minutes and they are SO good; way better than I envisioned. My daughter make them two nights in a row, that’s how much we loved them; they seriously are THAT good. What are you waiting for?
They look as beautiful as they taste and this quick appetizer was perfect after a last minute phone call and the announcement friends were coming over with wine!
Makes approximately 10-12 individual balls; enough to serve four people as an appetizer although I could have very easily done this for myself and my daughter and called it dinner!
For the Sauce
- 1 15 oz tomatoes, peeled, canned
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 garlic cloves
For the Popettes
- ½ cup Romano cheese, freshly grated
- ½ cup panko
- 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp sea salt
- oil for frying
To Make the Sauce
- Blend the tomatoes in a food processor.
- Gently heat the olive oil in a sauce pan and add the garlic and cook until very light golden brown.
- Add the tomatoes plus enough water to rinse the container to the garlic in the pan, than add the basil and sea salt and let simmer for 30 minutes. You will have a very liquid sauce; the popettes will absorb the liquid as they cook in it.
To Cook the Popettes
- Beat the eggs then slowly add the cheese, then the bread crumbs, the parsley, the baking soda, and sea salt and mix all together. You should have a semi-solid consistency; if necessary add additional bread crumbs and cheese until you can form the mixture into balls.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan, deep enough to cook them halfway up their height; the oil is ready when you splash a little flour in it and it drizzles. It's important to be hot enough or the popettes will absorb the oil.
- Gently put them into the hot oil; turning them over when they’re lightly brown, about a minute per side. Drain thoroughly on paper towels.
- Put them in the sauce and let them cook for another half hour to absorb the liquid; you might have to add additional water as there should be some sauce left in the pan to serve them with.
- Serve on small plates, top with sauce, and garnish with additional cheese and basil if desired.
Serving Size:1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g