Polpette di patata e ricotta

by Ursula Ferrigno

Crisp balls of potato stuffed with creamy ricotta and topped with lemony pesto

The Sicilian love of potatoes is well documented. The fertile soil from Etna gives the potatoes grown there golden flesh and a very particular flavour. This recipe is extremely child-friendly as they love to discover the ricotta in the middle. I urge you to try it with other ingredients—ham, olives and onions are all good.


For the polpette:
500g old potatoes, scrubbed
2 large eggs, plus 2 extra egg yolks
125g parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
A generous handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
225g ricotta cheese
100g dried breadcrumbs
Olive oil, for frying (optional)

For the lemon pesto:
2 unwaxed lemons, juice and zest, finely grated
A large handful of fresh basil leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled
75g pine nuts
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated


Boil the potatoes in their skins, then peel and mash in a ricer. Add the 2 egg yolks and the parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg and parsley and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mash the ricotta and season well. Beat the whole eggs in a bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl.

Make little nests of the potato mixture in your palms and fill up the hollows with a spoonful of ricotta. Seal the mixture to form a ball (the balls should be golf-ball sized). Continue to make more balls until all the mixture is completely used.

Dip each ball first into the beaten egg and then the breadcrumbs. You can either fry the polpette until golden in olive oil or bake them in an oven, preheated to 200C, for 15 mins—until golden brown.

For the pesto: put all the ingredients in a mortar and, using the pestle, grind until the mixture is a paste. Alternatively use a food processor.

Serve the polpette di patata e ricotta warm or cold with the lemon pesto. They are excellent for picnics and family gatherings.

Recipe: Ursula Ferrigno