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Roasted Fennel & Ricotta Polpette (Meatless Meatballs!)

Roasted Fennel & Ricotta Polpette (Meatless Meatballs!)

Meatless meatballs? Yes, they can be done and they taste amazing! You’d think it’s not possible for fennel to form a meatball buuuuut, after blending with breadcrumbs, parmesan and ricotta, they make beautiful lil balls. They are sooo delicious and great served simply with toasted sourdough or oodles of tomato covered spaghetti. NOW DIG IN!


  • 1 large fennel bulb (about 500g) cut into 6 wedges, keep the fronds aside!
  • 1 large onion cut into 6 wedges
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts (pine nuts are expensive... so you can use any nuts of your choice!)
  • 160g (2 cups) fresh breadcrumbs
  • 60g parmesan grated, plus extra to serve
  • 125g (1/2 cup) fresh ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 500g tomato passata (or you can use already made pasta sauce for this)


  1. Arrange the fennel and onion on a large baking tray and drizzle over some olive oil. Season with salt and roast for 25-30 minutes until tender and slightly caramelised, turning the veggies halfway through so they colour evenly. About five minutes before the end of cooking, scatter over your nuts and toast until golden.
  2. Keep aside half of the roasted onion and add the rest to a food processor, along with the fennel and nuts. Pulse to finely chop.
  3. Add the breadcrumbs, parmesan, ricotta and egg. Season with S&P and pulse again until a rough “mince” forms and the mixture is slightly sticky.
  4. Wet your hands with water (this makes rolling easier) and shape the gooey mixture into walnut-sized balls. Place the balls back on your roasting tray and drizzle over a little more oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.
  5. While that's roasting, finely chop the garlic and your reserved roasted onion. Place in a large pan over medium heat and add another glug of oil. Add the passata and 180ml (¾ cup) of water and S&P.
  6. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and rich.
  7. Add the fennel polpette and turn them gently to cover. Scatter over the reserved fennel fronds and a good sprinkling of extra parmesan.
  8. Serve with toasted sourdough or pasta.
  9. YUM.


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