Potatoes and green beans polpettone is a flagship dish, a symbol, of the Italian Riviera traditional cuisine: few poor ingredients, wisely measured, for a plate extremely good, healty and light. In the rest of Italy polpettone means meat loaf. In the veggie-crazy Italian Riviera, it is made of vegetables, eggs and cheese: the very few ingredients at disposal of the ancient Ligurian peasants.
My granny used to prepare it on summer time when all the family gather in our beautiful seaside home in Cervo Ligure. Poor woman, when she prepared her potatoes and green beans tart – and she prepared a huge baking pan, we were many – she was hardly able to get it on the table. Yes, because regardless her shouts and repreoachs, everybody, young and old, walking by the polpettone cooling on the windowsill couldn’t resist and cut out a slide. Then a slide leads to another …and the polpettone finished in the blink of an eye and my granny at the very last minute should arrange for something else to put on the table for an always big and hungry family.
The traditional recipe of the Liguria veggie polpettone provides for green beans and potatoes only as veggie. At our home we add some stewed onion to give a sweeter taste or, sometimes, we use a small eggplant – stewed as well – in lieu of one potato to make polpettone even lighter and with a soft bitter flavour. Then, for a full Italian Riviera taste do not forget to add aromatic herbs! The traditional one is marjoram, but parsley, oregano and thyme work very well too.
This potatoes and green beans tart a very versatile dish. You can have it as a snack, as a street food, as a starter or as a main dish. We actually eat polpettone as a light main dish for lunch during spring or summer time with some salad aside. And it’s a very taste compromise too if you decide to limit your meat intake!
- 15 oz (400 g) of green beans
- 2 medium size potatoes
- 2 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, plus some extra for greasing the baking pan
- 1 small white onion, minced
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon marjoram, minced
- 1 tablespoon of fresh Italian (flat) parsley, minced
- fine sea salt to taste
- 1 cup fine unflavoured bread crumbs
- Wash the potatoes, put them with their peel into a pot filled with cold water and boil for about 35 minutes or until tender.
- Clean the green beans and boil them in salty water for about 10-15 minutes or until soft, drain and chop coarsely with a knife.
- Drain the potatoes, peel them and mash still hot. Combine the potatoes puree and the green beans in a bowl and let cool.
- Put the onion in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons of oil and fry for 3-4 minutes until golden. Add to the potatoes and green beans.
- Add the eggs, parmesan cheese, marjoram and parsley and combine well all the ingredients. Add salt to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a rectangular (9 X 13 inch) baking pan with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle in some bread crumbs, spoon in the green beans and potatoes mixture and smooth the top to obtain a layer of 1 inch.
- Decorate scoring the top with a fork to obtain a nice pattern. Top evenly with some other bread crumbs and drizzle some more olive oil.
- Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the surface is golden.
- Let it cool down and serve warm or cool (the day after is even better).
SHARING IS CARING!