Sage and white bean polpettine with cherry tomato sauce

Sage and white bean polpettine with cherry tomato sauce
  • Serves icon Serves 6
  • Time icon Hands-on time 1 hour, simmering time 1 hour 10 min, plus cooling and chililng

Italian for ‘meatball’, this polpettine recipe can be altered to use up cans of cannellini beans in your cupboard.

Nutrition: per serving

Calories
400kcals
Fat
23.1g (4.9g saturated)
Protein
15.6g
Carbohydrates
28.1g (5.8g sugars)
Fibre
8.9g
Salt
0.6g
Calories
400kcals
Fat
23.1g (4.9g saturated)
Protein
15.6g
Carbohydrates
28.1g (5.8g sugars)
Fibre
8.9g
Salt
0.6g

Ingredients

  • 300g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight (or see the food team’s tips)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small bunch fresh sage, plus 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole, plus 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 12 whole black peppercorns
  • 40g thinly sliced pancetta, chopped (see tips)
  • 75g finely chopped shallots
  • 40g pecorino cheese, finely grated (see tips)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
  • Large pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp dried white breadcrumbs, plus extra to coat
  • 1 medium free-range egg, beaten
  • Steamed spinach to serve
  • For the cherry tomato sauce
  • 2 x 400g cans peeled Italian cherry tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • 8 large fresh sage leaves, finely shredded
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed

Method

  1. Drain the beans, tip into a pan and cover with 1.5 litres cold water. Add 2 tbsp of the olive oil, the bunch of sage, whole garlic cloves and black peppercorns. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour until tender (see tips). Drain well, then discard the sage and black peppercorns, and season the beans to taste with a little salt. Leave to go cold. You can prepare these a few hours ahead of time.
  2. Heat another 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a small pan, then add the pancetta and fry gently until golden. Scoop out with a slotted spoon onto a plate. Add the shallots and crushed garlic to the pan and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring now and then, until soft and lightly golden. Leave to go cold.
  3. Put the cooked beans in a bowl and crush with a potato masher into a coarse paste. (You could also do this in a food processor using the pulse button if you wish, just don’t make it too smooth.) Add the pancetta, shallot and garlic mixture, the cheese, parsley, chopped sage, nutmeg, breadcrumbs and enough beaten egg to bind the mixture together (take care not to make the mixture too wet). Season to taste.
  4. Divide the mixture into 12 pieces (about 70g each), roll each one into a ball, then flatten slightly into a 5cmwide patty. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with baking paper, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 2 hours or until firm.
  5. To make the sauce, pour the canned tomatoes into a sieve set over a bowl so the cherry tomatoes separate from the juice. Put the 4 tbsp quality oil, the sage leaves and garlic in a pan and set over a medium heat. As soon as it starts to sizzle, add the tomato juice and simmer, stirring now and then, until thickened (15-20 minutes). Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for 2 minutes or until heated through. Taste and season; keep hot. 
  6. Put the extra breadcrumbs on a plate and coat the patties with them on both sides, pressing them on gently with your hands. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Fry the patties for 3 minutes on each side or until crisp, golden and heated through. You may need to cook them in 2 batches, keeping the cooked ones warm in the oven while you fry the others. Serve with the tomato sauce and steamed spinach.

delicious. tips

  1. To make these patties vegetarian, leave out the pancetta and use a vegetarian alternative to pecorino cheese. If you’re using canned beans, boil them for just 5 minutes. We liked this topped with a dollop of creamy, rindless goat’s cheese.

    Debbie prefers to cook her beans from scratch, but use drained and rinsed canned ones for speed if you prefer. You’ll need 600g, which is about 3 x 400g cans, drained.

    Serve the polpettine with steamed spinach.

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