It has been a while since I had this old fashioned dish: bread fritters in tomato sauce which are a vegetarian alternative to meatballs. My mum never throws away stale bread; her two alternatives to this are either bread crumbs or bread fritters, as my mum call them ‘polpette di pane’. Obviously I had stale bread at home and I thought to make them for dinner, on top of a nice plate of pasta. I have to say I twisted my mum’s recipe a bit by adding peas and sliced fresh mushroom, but that was my choice! You don’t have to, as even the simple version rocks… and don’t you dare use shop bought dry bread crumbs!INGREDIENTS
- 350 g stale bread
- 4 eggs
- 2 spring onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- fresh parsley
- black pepper
- chilli pepper
- vegetable oil
- sea salt
- peas and mushrooms (optional)
- 1 litre tomato sauce
- 1 shallots
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2/3 fresh basil leaves
- sea salt
METHOD In a big bowl, crumble the stale bread using both hands. Add the eggs and stir everything with a wooden spoon. Pour milk little by little until the mixture gets to the a very soft consistency. Chop and add garlic, onion and parsley. Season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and chilli pepper. At this point you can add the optional ingredients like peas and sliced mushroom. Stir everything again and leave it to rest for 5 minutes.
Stir the mixture again before starting to make the bread fritters. Heat some oil in a frying pan and pour 2 spoons of mixture to make 1 fritter and spread it a little bit. Cook on both sides until golden brown and do not worry if the inside is uncooked, it will eventually cook later in the tomato sauce. If you are going to have them on their own, then cook them for a bit longer.
In a big pot, fry chopped shallots in extra virgin olive oil until soft. Pour in the tomato sauce and 200 ml of water. Season with sea salt and chopped basil. Stir everything and start adding the bread fritters one by one to the pot, making sure they are separately placed as much as possible so they don’t stack on top of each other. Make sure they are completely submerged in the tomato sauce. When done, cover with the lid and cook for 20 minutes on a very low heat.
When the sauce thickens, take the bread fritters out very gently so they don’t break and place them on a plate.
Serve them on their own or better on a plate of pasta dressed with the remaining tomato sauce.