Big Flavors from the Farm Volume 2: Italian-Style Veggie Polpette
Big Flavors From The Farm,  Entrées,  Meatless (Vegetarian and Vegan),  Recipes,  Series,  Vegetarian

Italian-Style Veggie Polpette

This is part 2 of a feature on Hilltop Hanover Farm & Environmental Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. You can find part 1 here.

Farm fresh veggies and herbs are blended with 2 types of beans to form this delicious, meat-free spin on meatballs. Perfect for Meatless Monday!

A photo posted by Ashley Covelli (@bigflavors) on

I brought home some gorgeous greens from the farm along with a jar of Hilltop Hanover’s Marinara Sauce (made from their own heirloom tomatoes!) and thought it would be fun to cook up a spin on traditional pasta with meatballs.

The Fordhook chard was so vibrant and delicious – I knew it would be a great addition!

I also used some of the scallions from the farm – it was so cool that these things were in the ground that morning and made their way to my plate that night!

A photo posted by Ashley Covelli (@bigflavors) on

I actually ended up making this recipe twice. I wasn’t able to get the texture totally perfect for frying (which was my original idea), but baking was a great alternative.

The first time I made them, I used regular breadcrumbs. The second time I went with panko. Both were good, but the panko definitely made them a little more firm.

Big Flavors from the Farm Volume 2: Italian-Style Veggie Polpette

I let my son pick out the pasta that I served this over – he loved the look of gemelli!

And as for the sauce – go with whatever your favorite is. I absolutely fell in love with Hilltop Hanover’s marinara – it was just bursting with ripe tomato flavor.

My husband is Italian and he’s big on not using sauce straight from the jar. Homemade is preferable, but if he’s using a jarred one, he always adds more flavor to it by sautéing garlic and sometimes onion or shallot, a bay leaf and red pepper flakes in oil until the garlic starts to brown before adding the sauce. He lets it reduce for a looooong time, seasons it with salt and pepper and adds red wine for the final 5-10 minutes of cooking time.

Big Flavors from the Farm Volume 2: Italian-Style Veggie Polpette

I just told him to trust me with this one – I dumped it right from the jar into the saucepan to warm up, then served it.

It. Was. Perfection.

I’m definitely going to be picking up more the next time I visit the farm. Italian hubby approved!

Big Flavors from the Farm Volume 2: Italian-Style Veggie Polpette

Oh, and I highly recommend serving this with My Favorite Garlic Bread – it’s great for dipping into the sauce!

Carbs on carbs… you can’t go wrong!

Thanks again to Michelle and Hilltop Hanover for sending me home with so many delicious goodies to cook with in my tiny kitchen!

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Overhead view of 2 bowls of Italian-Style Veggie Polpette with garlic bread.

Italian-Style Veggie Polpette

  • Author: Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen - Ashley Covelli
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings (about 7 polpette per serving) 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


Farm fresh veggies and herbs are blended with 2 types of beans to form this delicious, meat-free spin on meatballs. Perfect for Meatless Monday!


Units Scale
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 cups (packed) roughly chopped chard leaves (I used a Fordhook variety)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 15.5-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 1 green onion, roughly chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 3 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained well
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup panko, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • Cooked pasta and your favorite marinara sauce, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Heat peanut oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chard and salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, add white beans, chard, green onion, parsley, basil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Process until everything is well chopped, then pour into a large bowl. In the same food processor bowl, pulse the chickpeas until they’re chopped but still have some larger chunks. Add to the bowl with the white bean mixture. Add the Parmesan and 1/2 cup of the panko. Mix ingredients well. Pour remaining panko onto a plate.
  4. Spray a large, rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Form the bean mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls, and roll each in the panko, gently pressing so it sticks to the outside. I used a #50 scoop and got about 28 polpette. Arrange polpette on the prepared baking sheet, making sure to leave room around each. Bake for 15 minutes, flip, and continue baking until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes longer.
  5. Serve over cooked pasta with your favorite marinara sauce and additional grated Parmesan cheese on top. Delicious with garlic bread!


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 339
  • Sugar: 2.8 g
  • Sodium: 819.7 mg
  • Fat: 9.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 49 g
  • Fiber: 10.5 g
  • Protein: 16.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 3.6 mg

Keywords: meatless monday, pasta dish, white beans, chard

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Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.


  • Laura @MotherWouldKnow

    A meat-free meatball with red sauce? Wow, I can’t wait to try this on my red sauce-loving husband. Wonder if he’ll figure out what the meatballs are made of?

  • Allie R Taylor

    What a beautiful meal Ashley. Wonderful to have all that fresh produce to work with. The meatless meatballs are genius! Thanks for another fabulous recipe!

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