Meatballs in Lemon Leaves

Polpette Nella Foglia di Limone

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Italian Regional Cookery

Italian Regional Cookery

By Valentina Harris

Published 1990

  • About

Eleonora Consoli made these delicious meatballs for me at Lentini, cooking them on a gill layed over the embers of a lemon-wood fire. At Lentini there is no shortage of lemon trees, as they grow alongside the oranges and vines in wildly Sicilian, passionate profusion. In the UK it is less easy to find lemon trees. However, sometimes you can find clementines or tangerines on sale with a branch of leaves attached, and some people grow citrus trees in their home, so perhaps you can get around the problem. In any case, the object of using the leaves is to impart a vaguely lemony scent and flavour to the meat, but I have experimented with making the dish with no leaves and as long as you fry the meatballs in olive oil, squeeze lemon juice over them and serve them hot, they are absolutely scrumptious.


  • 14 oz (400 g) minced veal or beef or turkey or chicken
  • 4 oz (100 g) dry breadcrumbs
  • 4 oz (100 g) caciocavallo or Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • ½ wine glass cold water
  • lemon leaves or juice of ½ lemon and 1 teaspoon grated rind plus about 6 tablespoons olive oil


Mix the meat, breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, salt, pepper and parsley together very thoroughly, then blend in the water gradually. Mix with your hands for a few minutes, then shape the mixture into small balls about the size of a large walnut and press them slightly flat with your palms. Sandwich each one between 2 lemon leaves (if using), securing them with 2 wooden cocktail sticks. Grill them over a moderate heat on a barbecue or under a grill until the leaves begin to burn slightly, turning them over after about 4 minutes.

If you have no lemon leaves, fry the meatballs in about 6 tablespoons olive oil, drain them on kitchen paper and sprinkle with the lemon juice and grated rind.

Serve the meatballs very hot.