Meatless Meatballs – Polpette di Lupo Recipe

I am loving the new Cooking Channel and one of my favorite shows is Molto Mario with Mario Batali; I try to watch him every morning at 7:30!

I rarely watched him while he was originally on the Food Network, but I have found a new appreciation for his historic discussions of Italian way of life and what, how and why they cook. I borrowed three of his books from the library, so I can learn more; I really am intrigued by the simple style of Italian cooking!

Anyway, the other day, Mario cooked Polpette di Lupo. Translated to English, it means “Wolf Meatballs” – no, not meatballs made from wolf meat, but sneaky like a wolf, because there’s no meat in the meatballs! I knew I had to try this recipe!

Find the original recipe at the Cooking Channel web site:

My version is altered slightly.

baked meatless meatballs

Meatless Meatballs Polpette di Lupo

Serves 2 – approx 12 meatballs total


  • 6 oz toasted (or stale) whole wheat/grain bread, crusts removed – 4-5 slices
  • .75 cup 1% milk
  • 3 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1 oz Parmesan Reggiano – next time I might also add feta and/or mozzarella
  • 1 bunch fresh chopped basil leaves
  • 1 whole egg
  • salt & pepper

Cooking Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, add toasted bread slices and pour half of the milk over the top. Mix the bread, squishing it with a fork, then add the rest of the milk to layers underneath to cover all bread. Make sure all bread is milk soaked and crumbled. If the bread is too wet, drain the milk while squeezing the bread.
  2. Add garlic, cheese, basil, and egg. Season with salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
    mix the bread with garlic and basil
    add cheese
    mix meatless meatballs
  3. Grease the bottom of a baking sheet with some olive oil; form the bread mixture into round balls about 1 – 2 inches in diameter. Set on baking sheet and dry for 15 minutes or so.
    add meatless meatballs to baking tray
  4. Bake the meatballs in a 350° oven for approximately 40-45 minutes. Next time, I am going to turn them over halfway through the baking time just so all sides get equal baking. The bottoms stuck a little bit, so turning them might help with that problem. I also might experiment with baking a bit longer too.
    finished meatless meatballs

Serve right away, topped with tomato sauce. No need to cook any pasta, unless you want more carbs! ;)

meatless meatballs topped with tomato sauce

These meatballs probably won’t fool anyone, but they are very filling, paired with a large salad. They were soft & moist inside, with a crunchy outer layer. Great flavor, and they smelled so good in the oven! I will definitely be making these again!

Nutritional Data (Approximate, depending on type of bread used)

Calories 386.3
Total Fat 13.2 g
Saturated Fat 4.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.3 g
Cholesterol 122.1 mg
Sodium 504.8 mg
Potassium 194.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 35.1 g
Dietary Fiber 6.0 g
Sugars 7.8 g
Protein 19.6 g
Vitamin A 5.6 %
Vitamin C 0.0 %
Iron 15.2 %

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