If you’re looking to make the most of the humble leftovers you have lying around, Masterchef finalist & Head Chef of the Italian Embassy in London, Danilo Cortellini, has just the recipe for you – Palotte Cacio e Ova.
Made with stale bread (either white, brown or sourdough) and leftover cheese, these “bread and cheese balls” hail from Danilo’s beloved home-region of Abruzzo in Italy. While this dish was originally crafted as a vegetarian main course (at a time when meat was scarce), today it makes for the perfect pre-dinner bites too, complementing your aperitivo hour at home!
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
- 300 g of grated pecorino cheese (or any type of hard or semi-hard cheese you have at hand)
- 4 eggs
- 200 g of bread (crust removed)
- 1 garlic clove (chopped)
- 1 small bunch of fresh basil
- 1 small bunch of fresh parsley
- 1 red pepper
- 1 litre of vegetable oil (for frying)
- 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 200 g of tomato sauce (see recipe)
- 100 ml of milk (optional)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
Take the crust-less bread and chop it roughly into small cubes. If the bread is too dry, soak it in milk, and squeeze out the excess liquid before creating the balls.
Mix the chopped bread with chopped parsley, garlic, 4 eggs and cheese. Do not add too much salt, as the pecorino cheese is already salty. Mix and knead well by hands until smooth. Then form small balls with the mixture. Traditionally, the balls should not be larger than 3 cm.
As an accompaniment, chop the pepper, roast it with oil and a pinch of salt and add it to the tomato sauce. Heat the vegetable oil and then fry the cheese balls for 2-3 minutes until they are perfectly-golden, at a temperature of 160 degrees.
Drain the balls from the oil, and dry on kitchen paper. Spread a generous spoonful of tomato sauce with pepper on the centre of the plate. Gently place the cheese balls on the top. Garnish with extra cheese if desired and a fresh Basil leaf. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top and serve!
Born in Abruzzo, a small region of Italy that is rich in culinary tradition, Danilo Cortellini was always destined to become a chef. From there he travelled his way throughout Italy, working with in Michelin-starred restaurants such as San Domenico and Perbellini, before arriving in London in 2010. Danilo worked at three Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse restaurants before becoming Head Chef at the Italian Embassy. In 2015 Danilo took part in MasterChef: The professionals and made it to the final.