Covering Shame With a Lemon Leaf: Polpettine In Foglie di Limone

Sometimes, my food is ugly.

Sometimes, I don't give a damn it's ugly.

Sometimes, it's easier to wrap up the ugliness than to face the quizzical looks.

And sometimes, it works out that my contempt for elaborate presentation has a hidden benefit.

Thus is the story with polpettine in foglie di limone--meatballs wrapped in lemon leaves.

I can't make beautiful meatballs. No matter how finely I chop the meat, no matter how carefully I pick out bits of sinew from the mince, no matter how carefully I roll the balls, they always come out sort of squashed.
So I learned to wrap them in leaves. When the meatball is inside a leaf, nobody gives a damn what it looks like. The leaf makes the dramatic impression; if you're lucky, you use a leaf that imparts a taste, like ti leaves or banana leaves--or lemon leaves.

Yes, you can eat lemon leaves. Pick them off your own tree; you don't want to pick them off a random tree that may have had poison sprayed on it. You probably don't want to actually eat the leaf, either; discard it like you would wrappers from tamales.


1 1/2 lb. ground veal
1/2 c. breadcrumbs
1/2 c. grated Parmigiano cheese
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
24 lemon leaves, washed and dried
Olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.

2. Mix the ingredients together in a bowl.

3. Divide into 24 balls; roll however you like.

4. Place each ball inside a lemon leaf and secure with a toothpick.

5. Lay in a baking pan with a lip, brush with olive oil, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until done.

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