Everyone is familiar with the classic Italian-American meatball. Often dense and meaty and huge, those meatballs are meant to be simmered in marinara and served with spaghetti. While that's all well and good, the meatballs featured here take a different approach altogether. Tiny, delicate, yet full of flavor, they are meant to be served as finger foods for a cocktail party or as a course on their own. (Though paired with a salad, they can also make a nice lunch or a light supper.)
Most of these recipes stray far from the conventional meatball. There are meatballs made with lamb and veal; vegetarian ones made with pumpkin, potato, pistachios, and Pecorino, and even one made from red beans.
If, after trying these polpette, you're in the mood for something more traditional, make the polpette di manzo, which are made with ground beef. While they taste light and delicious paired with a fennel and radicchio salad, they most closely resemble the meatballs with which most people are familiar with ingredients that include beef, onion, breadcrumbs, egg and parsley. After pan-frying them, you could even simmer them in some sauce and serve them with spaghetti. Don't worry; we won't tell.
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