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Torta di Polpettini – Meatball quiche

 All meatballs are not created equal. Some were meant for tomato sauce and spaghetti. Others were destined for ……………… quiche? Well, I like to think of this as torta di polpettini, the Italian version of quiche. I know I’m not stretching this too far, because I saw something similar to it on an Italian cooking show called “La Prova Del Cuoco.” I don’t usually write down the ingredients because I watch the show when I’m working out on my NordicTrack. But the idea was simmering in my brain since I saw it several months ago. I figured my Italian chit-chat group would be the perfect guinea pigs when I attempted to recreate what I saw on TV. I don’t think they used caramelized onion on the show, but I love the sweet flavor it adds. Don’t skip it. I should tell you I blind-baked the crust for 20 minutes ahead of time — on a pizza stone. It was cooked and firm, but after baking with the filling, I thought it got a little soggy. Next time, I might bake this without the crust entirely.
Place the polpettini (mini meatballs) over the caramelized onions.
Pour the filling over the meatballs and bake.
The meatballs get browner as the torta bakes, so be careful you don’t overdo it.
Now I’m all for spaghetti and meatballs, but a little torta di polpettini, with all that cheese, eggs and cream is pretty hard to resist. Back to the NordicTrack I go.

Meatball Quiche – Torta di Polpettini
printable recipe here

your favorite pie crust recipe (or eliminate it – grease the pan and bake without a crust)

small meatballs (about 44)

For the meatballs:

2 1-2 – 3 pounds of ground meat (I used ground turkey)

about 1/3 of a large loaf of sturdy white Italian bread, preferably a day old
about 1 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

Trim the crusts off the bread. Dry the crusts in the oven and use to make bread crumbs for another recipe. Tear the bread into chunks and place into a bowl with the milk. Let the bread soak for at least 15 minutes or until it has absorbed the milk and softened. Squeeze as much milk as possible from the bread and discard the milk (or give to the cat). Squish the bread pieces with your fingers into a bowl with the ground meat until there are no big lumps. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well with your hands. Shape into round balls. Place on a baking sheet or broiling pan and broil or bake at high heat (450 – 500), watching carefully so they don’t burn. For this recipe, they don’t really have to brown fully on the outside, because they’ll brown up when they’re baked in the torta.

1/2 cup sliced onions
2 T. olive oil

Saute the onions in the olive oil for about 1/2 hour at low heat, until they are browned and caramelized. Place the onions in the bottom of the pan, or the pastry crust. Place the meatballs over the onions.

for the filling:
1 cup heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2
3 eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 oz. mozzarella cheese
minced parsley
salt, pepper to taste

Beat the eggs with a whisk, add the rest of the ingredients and pour over the meatballs and onions. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.