Anne's Blog

Forget Coronavirus: Savor Those Pino Polpette

Date: March 28, 2020 - categories: , , , - 2 Comments

Wish a diversion to ward off a possible CPA (Coronavirus Panic Attack)? You might wish to make this new version of polpette (meatballs) – with a “Pino touch” – and then enjoy them with those sharing lockdown with you.

For le polpette (for about 4- 5 persons), we used these ingredients (as we made enough for more than one meal):

  • about 3/4 lb lean ground beef,
  • 2 garlic cloves,
  • sundried tomatoes (about 10) – “a Pino addition”
  • about a cup of breadcrumbs
  • about 1/4 c. tomato sauce
  • a bit of milk
  • an egg
  • oregano, q. b. (“quanto basta” or “as much as it takes”)
  • grated parmigiano or pecorino cheese, q. b.
  • some of our olive oil, q.b.
  • salt, pepper, q. b.

For the tomato sauce of le polpette, you’ll need:

  • a bottle of tomato sauce
  • olive oil, q. b.
  • a small carrot
  • a small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 stalk of celery – or the tip of the stalk with leaves
  • salt, pepper, q.b.

For the polpette, Pino grated three garlic cloves and then a carrot to add to the ground beef:

He then finely-diced the sun-dried tomatoes:

I grated some of the crusty bread pieces that we always set aside for crumbs when bread hardens up after a couple days. (The grinder – for grating hard bread and Parmesan or other aged cheeses – was once a Christmas gift from Pino and remains my favorite “can’t -do-without-it” kitchen utensil)

Next step?

The grated bread crumbs joined the grated Parmesan cheese, ground beef, grated carrot, grated garlic cloves and grated onion.

I then added oregano, salt and pepper (q.b.) and one of our eggs (see how orange that yolk is?), mixing together all ingredients with hands….

…. and then, some extra-virigin olive oil, q.b. (about 1/4 c?).

I poured in a bit of milk (to tenderize the ground beef as well as to moisten all):

Before forming the meatballs, I started the tomato sauce, beginning with the sliced carrot and onion Pino had sliced for me:

I covered the bottom of a stainless steel pan with our olive oil, added the onion, carrot, a couple garlic cloves and started simmering the vegetables.

But trying to stay “heart-healthy” as much as possible, I added a ladleful of hot water so as to avoid any frying…..

….and a few minutes later, a bottle of tomato sauce:

I put some water in the tomato bottle, giving it a good shake and setting aside (to add as needed later to the sauce):

After adding the tips of a celery stalk to the sauce, ….

I raised the heat a bit in order to bring sauce slowly to the boiling point…..

……and then formed the meatballs:

When the sauce was bubbling at boiling point, I slid in the meatballs and reduced the heat a bit:

I simmered the sauce with the added polpette about 20 minutes – until meatballs were tender and sauce was becoming “ristretta” (literally, “tighter” or “restricted,” i.e., “reduced”):

Time now to put the salted water on to boil for the pasta.

And as the sauce continued to simmer, I added some water from the tomato sauce bottle as needed to keep the sauce moist:


When sauce seemed the right consistency, I dropped heat to a lower simmer and cooked the pasta in salted boiling water. I used farfalle (“butterflies” – also known as “bowties”) but fine to use penne, rigatoni, or another pasta of similar size.

(As mentioned in other pasta recipes, I never weigh pasta but just cook two handfuls for every portion).

When al dente, I drained the pasta, setting aside the brodo della pasta (cooking water of the pasta), for moistening the sauce after stirring it into the pasta.

Before adding the sauce, I’d set aside le polpette for our secondo (“second course”) for “spaghetti with meatballs” may be an Italian/American dish but…..

I put a ladleful of the brodo della pasta into the tomato sauce pan, swirled it around to absorb all the sauce….

…..and then added it to the pasta to moisten all before serving up our portions:

As usual for almost any pasta dish, Pino added a bit of his hot sauce – olio all’peperoncino – to his pasta before tasting:

After the sauce, Pino was ready to try our secondo, le polpette ai pomodori secchi (meatballs with “sundried tomatoes”):

But I’ll always call them “le polpette di Pino.” And I confess: on our second day of sharing this pasta, I put those polpette right on top of the pasta.

Pino moved his polpette off to another plate. To eat later as a secondo. Logicamente.

Read about Assisi acquaintances now producing protective masks, rather than high-end cashmere.

Read here about a snowy day in Umbria during our coronavirus lockdown

Cook away a possible CPA – with this simple recipe for a buonissima pasta dish

Click here for an easy, tasty recipe

Click here for another easy recipe to ward off CPA

Click here for a recipe of Pino’s mamma, Signora Vincenza (also helps ward off CPA)

Click here  for another “coronavirus lockdown” recipe

Read here about an outdoor market visit to ward off a CPA (Coronavirus Panic Attack)

Click here to read about Novella’s vegetable stand during the coronavirus lockdown

Read about new life on our land during the coronavirus lockdown.

Read about how reflecting on Van Gogh helped me see the beauty all around – in simple, insignificant objects

Click here to read about – and see! – a favorite Orvieto eating spot (to ward off CPA)

Read about – and see! – Assisi during coronavirus lockdown

Read about a Pino feast on March 8th as coronavirus distraction 

Click here to read about March 8th – as a coronavirus antidote

Peppa is always perfect distraction from a CPA

Read about a stop for fresh pasta to ward off a CPA


  • Janet Eidem says:

    Everything about this post is rich, generous, and delicious! Do you sun dry your own tomatoes? Love the addition of carrots to le polpette. My mouth is watering. Health to you both.

  • Janet, we do not sun dry our tomatoes..Pino buys them..
    Thanks for your note and health to you, too.

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