Cicoria Selvatica e le Polpettine


It is very common to see people foraging here in Puglia, picking what look like weeds from the side of the road, in the small parks whose sidewalks are overgrown and also directly from the sidewalks. They put the weeds in bags, take them home, wash them, cook them and eat them. They forage for several things, wild asparagus in the spring and lately wild cicory. Now I am hoping that the wild cicory that I bought at the market came from a field in the countryside and not from an over grown sidewalk, this town is overrun with stray dogs and I see them doing their business on this comestible weed all of the time. Adds flavor?

P1350195 P1350197 P1350201 P1350202

I love cicoria, fell in love with in Rome and can find it here in several different forms. One thing that I really love about it is that it is a weed, wild and even though I am too finicky to go foraging for it, I love that it is foraged food.


I also love my fruttivendola because when I bought this, she immediately told me how she would prepare it. With meatballs, cooked in broth in the oven. Cool, my daughter lives for meatballs. I took them home and while preparing the meatballs asked my babysitter, who, of course, is also Pugliese, about this recipe and she offered a few tips of her own.

P1350212 P1350214

Cicoria Selvatica e le Polpettine

  • 2 kilos of cicoria or dandelion greens, cleaned
  • 10 winter tomatoes
  • 1 liter of meat broth or water conserved from boiled cicoria
  • 100 grams of grated pecorino cheese
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
  • salt to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, when it starts to boil, add salt and the cleaned cicoria. Boil for about 5 minutes, until it is tender, but not completely cooked. Drain, but conserve the water that the cicoria was boiled in, you can substitute that for the meat broth, making the dish a little lighter.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Crumble the ground veal into a large bowl, breaking up any clumps with your fingers, and toss to mix them. Pour the beaten eggs over the meat, and scatter the bread crumbs and grated cheese on top. Fold and toss and squeeze the meat through your fingers to distribute all the ingredients evenly. Scoop up about a heaping teaspoon of the mixture and roll it in your palms to form a 1-inch ball. Set it on a tray lined with wax paper or parchment, and form the rest of the mixture into meatballs.
Spread the cicoria in a deep baking dish and evenly place the meatballs and the tomatoes around the dish. Pour the cooking water or broth over everything, but don’t smother it. Sprinkle the grated pecorino over everything and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve in bowls immediately.


One Year Ago: Risotto with Orata, Leeks, Sundried Tomatoes and Saffron & Zuppa di Pesce

Two Years Ago: Trattoria al Gambero, Porto Cesareo (LE), I Secondi della Lanternaia & L’Antro, Crispiano (TA)

Three Years Ago: Reezy Peezy & Kale with Cannellini and Polenta

Four Years Ago: Lentil Tomato Soup & Spaghetti alla Gricia

Five Years Ago: Frittata di Maccheroni, Asparagus and Spinach Risotto, Chicken Tikka with Pomegranate Couscous Salad, Pot Stickers, La Carbonara, Chicken Thighs with Saffron, Green Olives & Mint, Tiramisu, Spaghetti with Scallops & Gumbo Ya Ya

~ by italicious on February 25, 2014.

4 Responses to “Cicoria Selvatica e le Polpettine”

  1. Love cicoria, I discovered it in Italy. It took a while to get used to the taste but after a while I started looking for ever wilder and more bitter varieties!

  2. but I expect the skills are transferable – if not hereditary !

  3. This recipe is for Italian meatballs, Jon, not Swedish meatballs . . . Judy

  4. Tuesday 2/25/14 Anneka doesn’t get her love of meatballs from any place strange. My Dad, her Over-Opa loved Swedish Meatballs. They were small like the ones in your pictures. His Mom, my Grandma Carlsten & Anneka’ Great-Great Grandma, really knew how to make them. Of course, I could ask Lois & my Cousins if any of them knew the recipe.

    Maybe I’ll do that now with those for whom I have e-mail addresses.

    Love to all, Dad/Opa

    Sent from my iPhone

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: