Pallotte – Cacio e Uova (Bread & Cheese Balls)

Cook Eat WorldEuropeanPallotte – Cacio e Uova (Bread & Cheese Balls)

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: January 9, 2023

Last Updated: January 30th, 20232 Comments

If ever there was a dish that epitomised Italy it’s Pallotte – Cacio e Uova – a life-changing creation from Abruzzo. Minimal ingredients—eggs, cheese and bread are masterfully combined to create something truly magical! Introducing the dish you’ve been waiting for…

A plate of Pallotte - Cacio e Uova (Bread & Cheese balls) in a tomato sauce.

Once in a while a dish comes along that utterly surprises you. Pallotte - Cacio e Uova is a humble dish that caught my attention on a menu in Italy. I'd never heard of it, so didn't expect all that much, but was blown away by this unassuming treasure. Bread, cheese and eggs are put to magnificent use in creating amazing and intensely flavourful cheese balls in a tangy tomato sauce. Think of it as a vegetarian meatball of sorts, but instead of trying to replicate meat, these pallotte have a unique cheesy flavour and perfect texture all of their own. They're my new favourite Italian treat!

What's ahead?

What is Pallotte Cacio e Uova?

In the Abruzzo region of Italy, about 2 hours east of Rome lies the beautiful town of Pacentro. Perched precariously high on a mountainside, this peaceful town defies gravity and is listed as one of the most beautiful in Italy. It was very close to where I lived in Abruzzo, so I'd often visit one of my favourite restaurants, specifically to eat my most favourite Italian treat. Pallotte - Cacio e Uova are unique to Abruzzo and use humble, everyday ingredients.

Breadcrumbs, egg and Pecorino cheese are combined to form a dough that is formed into balls. These balls are then shallow fried. Finally, the they're simmered in a simple tomato ragù. The results are nothing short of miraculous! Soft, plump bread balls in a tangy tomato sauce. The cheese from the breadballs also makes its way into the sauce, creating an even more intense flavour. Perfection.

A plate of Pallotte - Cacio e Uova (Bread & Cheese balls) in a tomato sauce, garnished with a little Parmigiano cheese.

Why they work

They're easy - making these breadballs is really very easy.

They're intensely flavourful - These umami-laden bread balls are cheesy beyond your wildest dreams.

They're filling - Normally served as an appetiser, if you're not careful Pallotte will finish you off before the secondi course even arrives. That means they're great as a simple main course too.

Stuff you'll need

Like all the Greatest Hits of Italy, Pallotte Cacio e Uova use the bare minimum of ingredients. There are no extraneous flavours here, every ingredient is there for a reason, each equally pulling their weight.

  • Bread - the backbone to the balls, they give the structure and texture that makes them so pleasing. Stale bread is ideal, with the crusts removed.
  • Egg - The binding agent, eggs hold everything together and help give the softer, lightly chewy texture.
  • Cheese - The salty umami notes of pecorino cheese brings the flavour in bucketloads.
  • Parsley - The only other ingredient is a little parsley for a light herbaceous note. It's not essential, but featured in most versions I tried in Abruzzo.
  • Tomato Sauce - The sauce is easy - tomato passata, with a little garlic and basil for flavour (fished out at the end once it's done its magic).
The ingredients for Pallotte Cacio e Uova (Cheese & Bread Balls) - bread, cheese, eggs, parsley, tomato passata, garlic and basil.

Step by Step

Pallotte are really easy to put together, all you need are your hands to roll the soft dough into balls and then a quick shallow fry, then simmer.

  1. Step 1 - Make the breadcrumbs. Take off the crusts and discard. Blitz the bread in a food processor until you have a medium crumb.
  2. Step 2 - Combine the ingredients. Add the cheese, eggs and parsley to the breadcrumbs and mix with your hands until you have a smooth dough.
  3. Step 3 - Form the balls. Roll the dough into small balls, around the size of a ping-pong ball.
  4. Step 4 - Fry the pallotte. In about 1/2-inch of oil, shallow fry the balls, on all sides until nicely browned.
  5. Step 5 - Make the sauce. Using a little oil, the passatta, garlic and basil mixed with a little water, simmer the sauce for 5 minutes.
  6. Step 6 - Simmer the pallotte. Drop in the pallotte and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add a little water if the sauce dries up too much. Remove from the heat and serve!
Breadcrumbs for Pallotte Cacio e Uova (Cheese & Bread Balls)
Mixing all the ingredients together by hand for Pallotte Cacio e Uova (Cheese & Bread Balls)
Rolling the bread, egg & cheese mixture into balls for Pallotte Cacio e Uova (Cheese & Bread Balls)
Shallow frying the bread. cheese & egg balls for Pallotte Cacio e Uova (Cheese & Bread Balls)
Making a simple tomato sauce for Pallotte Cacio e Uova (Cheese & Bread Balls)
Simmering the bread balls in tomato sauce for Pallotte Cacio e Uova (Cheese & Bread Balls)

Pro Tips to make your life easier

  • For softer, more pillowy cheese balls, try not to overwork the mixture too much out they run the risk of becoming dense.
  • You can roll and fry the Palotte up to a day in advance, the bread balls are surprisingly robust and hold up well to reheating in the sauce.
  • You can switch up the cheese you use. A hard aged cheese is best, so try Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano or a combination of all three to see which is best.

Serving and suggestions

  • Serve hot as an appetiser. I like to sprinkle over a little more parsley and a light dusting of pecorino cheese. In one Abruzzese restaurant, the pallotte were garnished with a wonderful grated semi firm and super salty goats cheese which just added more cheesy goodness to the mix.
  • Serve with crusty bread to soak up the delicious leftover sauce.
  • Serve alongside a simple rocket salad for a light lunch.
  • Fridge: Palotte will stay fresh for 3-4 days in the fridge.
  • Freezer: You can freeze leftover pallotte too, just ensure they are fully defrosted before heating gently in a pan or microwave. Add a little water to the sauce before reheating to ensure the sauce doesn't dry out.
A plate of Pallotte - Cacio e Uova (Bread & Cheese balls) in a tomato sauce, garnished with a little Parmigiano cheese.

Ready to get cooking?

Once you sample the delights of Pallotte Cacio e Uova you'll see what all the fuss is about. It's a crying shame that this dish is relatively unheard of, even in Italy. It's really one of my most favourite dishes of recent years, and so easy to make at home. Although it's a pretty new discovery, I'll be cooking this recipe for everyone for the foreseeable future - until they tell me to stop. Which is unlikely. Enjoy!

A plate of Pallotte - Cacio e Uova (Bread & Cheese balls) in a tomato sauce.

 

A plate of Pallotte - Cacio e Uova (Bread & Cheese balls) in a tomato sauce, garnished with a little Parmigiano cheese.

Pallotte - Cacio e Uova (Bread & Cheese Balls)

Rate this recipe

5 from 3 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Recipe by Lee
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Abruzzese, Italian
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 520

Ingredients

For the pallotte

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 basil stem & leaves
  • 500ml tomato passata (blended tomato)
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

To make the pallotte bread balls

  • Using a food processor, blitz the bread until you form medium sized breadcrumbs
  • Add the eggs, cheese and parsley and, using your hands, bring the mixture together to form a soft dough.
  • Take small portions of dough and roll into balls (about the size of a ping-pong ball). Arrange on a plate.
  • Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and then add the pallotte balls. Gently fry for 2 minutes per side. Shake the pan to move the pallotte around to get as much of the surface brown as possible. Remove and drain on paper towels. Don't overcrowd the pan so you may need to do this in batches.

To make the sauce

  • In a deep sauté pan or saucepan, heat the oil until just hot, then fry the garlic for 30 seconds to flavour the oil. Add the tomato passata and about 11/2 cup water and bring to a simmer. Gently bubble for 8 minutes (uncovered) to reduce slightly. Add the balls to the sauce and stir gently to coat. Simmer them in the sauce for 15 minutes, uncovered, shaking the pan occasionally to turn. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little water. If it's too thin, turn up the heat to simmer off until thickened. It should have a consistency of double/whipping cream.
    Remove from the heat and serve hot with a little sauce, sprinkled with a little more grated cheese.

Notes

Serving and suggestions
  • Serve hot as an appetiser. I like to sprinkle over a little more parsley and a light dusting of pecorino cheese. In one Abruzzese restaurant, the pallotte were garnished with a wonderful grated semi firm goats cheese which just added more cheesy goodness to the mix.
  • Serve with crusty bread to soak up the delicious leftover sauce.
  • Serve alongside a simple rocket salad for a light lunch.
  • Fridge: Palotte will stay fresh for 3-4 days in the fridge.
  • Freezer: You can freeze pallotte too, just ensure they are fully defrosted before heating gently in a pan or microwave. Add a little water to the sauce before reheating to ensure the sauce doesn't dry out.

Nutrition

Calories: 520kcal (26%) | Carbohydrates: 37g (12%) | Protein: 28g (56%) | Fat: 30g (46%) | Saturated Fat: 11g (69%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 175mg (58%) | Sodium: 919mg (40%) | Potassium: 717mg (20%) | Fiber: 4g (17%) | Sugar: 9g (10%) | Vitamin A: 1114IU (22%) | Vitamin C: 15mg (18%) | Calcium: 638mg (64%) | Iron: 5mg (28%)
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