Formaggio - Purpetti ri Caciu
In the old days, when
bread was baked at home, not every day but enough to last at least a week, any leftover bread was ingenuously
recycled in many inventive ways.
Bread pudding, a common dessert all over the
world, is made with stale bread in a mixture of various ingredients, like sugar, milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla,
other spices or fruits and nuts, and baked until it forms a golden crust. In Tuscany, the Pappa al Pomodoro is a mixture of simple, savory ingredients, boiled to
form a pappa, or mangiare which means “food.”
These old and popular dishes are common where
bread is part of the everyday diet; it does not have an original recipe but is the product of the imagination of
the cook or housewife preparing it and determined by the ingredients locally available.
The panzanella or pan molle, also popular in
Tuscany and in central Italy, is a salad made with a mixture of stale bread, tomatoes and fresh and tasty olive
oil, abundant in the region. In the northeast of the peninsula, canederli are made from old bread, speck, a type of prosciutto or ham,
cheese, eggs, onions and parsley, then cooked in broth. Similar specialties are made, with some variances, in
the bordering Croatia, Austria, Germany and other European states.
In the southern part of Italy, a
variety of dishes are developed from leftover bread in many, various and creative ways. In Sicily, the
plentiful cheese and eggs are coupled with breadcrumbs, made with hard and old bread, to create cheese balls.
These little balls are cooked in chicken or meat broth to become light, spongy and delicious
Serves 4 to
2 qt chicken or meat
1 cup breadcrumbs,
made of old bread
½ cup grated cheese
(pecorino or parmigiano)
2 tablespoons olive
2 eggs, lightly
1 tablespoon chopped
Few gratings of
nutmeg to taste
Generous pinch of
Grated cheese to
serve on the side
Mix all ingredients until you get a paste consistency. Should the mixture
be too dry, add a few tablespoons of broth; should the mixture be too watery, add more breadcrumbs or
From this mixture, make small balls the size of a quarter and set on
broth to a boil, lower the heat to simmer and gently place the cheese balls into the broth to cook for about ten
for a few minutes and serve the soup and cheese balls with grated cheese on the side.