Chard-Sesame Balls and Red Onion Jam (Polpette di Bietola e Marmellata di Cipolla Rossa)

OMG – what a great find! This is another recipe from ‘Cooking with Italian Grandmothers’ and boy this one is a keeper! (Thank you, Jessica!) At the conclusion of  Jessica’s year in Italy, she returns to Calabria to spend the remaining weeks with a woman named Carluccia. One of Carluccia’s parting treats to her was a paper bag filled with these emerald green chard balls. What a delicious and healthy way to use Swiss chard. I made these twice over the past week and these will definitely be on the next dinner party antipasti list. Hands down – you have to give these a try. I rolled out the balls a few hours in advance and popped them in the oven just prior to dinner. (I popped the rest in my mouth all weekend.) These are a delicious mix of Swiss chard, ricotta, parmigiano, garlic and a zest of lemon. It doesn’t get any better or fresher than this. Enjoy.

Polpette di Bietola e Marmellata di Cipolla Rossa (Chard-Sesame Balls and Red Onion Jam)

From: Cooking with Italian Grandmothers, Jessica Theroux


For the polpette:

2 bunches chard, destemmed and washed

1/3 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup bread crumbs

2 cloves garlic, very finely minced

1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan or hard pecorino

1 large egg

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Salt to taste

Olive oil

1/4 – 1/2 cup tan-colored sesame seeds

For the marmellata:

1 cup very finely diced white or red onions, or shallots

1/4 cup sugar

Small pinch of salt

Cayenne pepper to taste

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


To prepare the marmellatta, place the onions, sugar, salt and cayenne together in a small pan. Turn the heat to medium-low, and bring to a boil. The onions will give off significant water – let the mixture boil until it becomes jam-like in consistency, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar. Let cool to room temperature before serving with the warm polpette.

To prepare the polpette, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper. Steam the chard leaves for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the chard and let briefly cool. Vigourously squeeze the chard dry by turning and pressing it against a fine-mesh strainer repeatedly to strain out the liquid. Finely puree the chard in a food processor. Place a cup of the chard in a large mixing bowl and whisk together with the rest of the ingredients, except for the olive oil and the sesame seeds. Place some olive oil in one bowl, and sesame seeds in another. Roll the chard mixture into balls (using about 2 tablespoons per ball). Roll the balls first in the oil and then the sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned on the bottom.

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