Not sure what to do with stale bread? Try making these Italian Bread & Cheese Dumplings! Serve as an appetizer, a side dish or as a main dish by adding pasta, you would surely ask for seconds!
No potatoes, no flour – just good old bread, and some cheese for this dumpling recipe. 🙂
This is one of those dishes that I was a bit wary to make on my own at first. I was concern that I will not be able to get the right texture of the dumplings that I remembered from South Italy.
My moment of clarity came when we moved to Frankfurt this July, and I had one of their bread dumplings – I went ‘Aha! That is delicious, but the bread dumplings from Puglia had a different consistency.’
So, here you go!
HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN BREAD & CHEESE DUMPLINGS
IS STALE BREAD A MUST FOR THIS DUMPLING RECIPE?
Well, it’s not a MUST, more like a FORCEFUL suggestion. 😉
Stale bread is not as soft as new ones, so they get less mushy when you mix them with other ingredients. We are aiming for a bread dumpling mixture with some bits of crumbly texture left in it, not a wet one.
IS THERE A SPECIFIC KIND OF BREAD THAT I SHOULD USE FOR THESE BREAD DUMPLINGS?
You can use a regular loaf of sliced bread – and if I’m not mistaken, sometimes their crusts are not even that hard. If that is the case, do not get rid of them. Crumble them as well.
However, if you are using those country loaves, like what I normally have, then you REALLY have to get rid of the crusts.
Those types of crusts are crunchy on day one, and just gets harder as they get older.
CAN I REPLACE PECORINO WITH OTHER TYPES OF CHEESE FOR THIS DUMPLING RECIPE?
Yep, I have used the following as substitutes for pecorino, and I have been happy with the results:
- Grana Padano
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- Manchego (I know, I know, this one is Spanish, but since I always have them anyway, I had to try them as well, right?)
THE BREAD DUMPLING MIXTURE IS TOO WET, CAN I ADD FLOUR IN IT?
This is another FORCEFUL suggestion – do NOT add flour.
From my experience, they tend to make the dumplings more compact. If you have had German bread dumplings before, this Italian dumpling recipe makes them softer and less dense.
That’s why, you have to slowly add the olive oil as the last ingredient. Start with a tablespoon first and then mix. If it’s still too dry, add half a tablespoon, and so on.
Do note that I have never used more than two tablespoons of olive oil.
WHAT GOES WITH BREAD DUMPLINGS?
For these Italian dumplings, a simple tomato or marinara sauce is all you need. That’s how I normally serve it at home.
Summer of 2017 was the first time I had bread and cheese dumplings in Puglia. It was served with ‘maccheroncini pugliese’ – a pasta that’s rolled up, so there’s a bit of a hole in the middle, like a tubular pasta.
They said they simmered the bread dumplings for at least two hours (?!) I remember some of them were already falling apart, but you know what else I remember? How unbelievably simple and delicious the dish was. That’s the magic of Pugliese food. 🙂
If you want more appetizer ideas, then check out my appetizers collection!
Italian Bread & Cheese Dumplings
- 250 grams bread, at least one-day old
- 2 medium eggs
- 1/2 cup pecorino cheese, grated and heaping cup
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped roughly
- 3 & 1/2 tbsp olive oil, separated into 2 tbsps and 1 & 1/2
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced finely
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- dash of peperoncino (or chili flakes)
- vegetable oil, for shallow frying
- salt & pepper, for seasoning
- Crumble the soft part of the bread, getting rid of the hard parts (crust).
- Combine crumbled bread, eggs, pecorino cheese, parsley and season with salt and pepper. Mix.
- Add olive oil. Do this slowly to make sure that the mixture is not too wet. Mixture should be wet enough to be sticky, you would still get a bit of texture when you rub it between your fingers. Mix to combine.
- Take a portion of the mixture and use your hands to form a ball. (I normally use a heaping teaspoon of mixture for each dumpling.) This recipe yields 12 dumplings.
- Heat up vegetable oil on a pan. Use only enough vegetable oil to shallow fry the dumplings.
- Once oil is ready, brown the dumplings. Make sure the heat is not too high, the dumplings tend to darken quick.
- Place fried dumplings on clean kitchen towel to remove excess oil.
- On a separate pan, heat up the remaining 1 & ½ tbsp of olive oil. Once ready, add garlic and cook until garlic becomes fragrant.
- Add tomato sauce. Season with salt, pepper and pepperoncino. Bring to a boil.
- Add fried dumplings, cover and simmer for at least an hour.
- Serve. Garnish with more parsley and cheese, if desired.
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