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Active time
1 hour

For the Polpettini

¾ pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

1 large egg

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce and Pasta

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

½ medium white onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

2 15-ounce cans white beans, drained and rinsed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ batch fresh pasta dough, rolled as directed and cut with a knife into irregular shapes of about 2 inches, or ½ pound dried wide flat noodles, such as pappardelle, broken into 2-inch lengths

Thinly sliced fresh sage leaves for garnish (optional)

Fleur de sel


Make the Polpettini

  1. Combine the shrimp, panko, egg, cream, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a food processor and puree until smooth. (To test for seasoning, roll a small amount into a ball and poach in barely simmering water. Let cool, taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.)
  2. To roll the meatballs, wet your hands slightly and roll the mixture into balls about the size of a large marble. Set the meatballs down on a baking sheet (you will have 30 to 40), cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the Sauce

  1. Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, sage, and rosemary and cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the beans, 2 cups water, and a little salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Cook for about 5 minutes and then transfer about half the beans to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth, adding a little bit of water if very thick. Return the pureed beans to the pot with the whole beans.

Assemble the dish

  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp polpettini to the pot of beans and simmer gently over medium heat until the meatballs are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the beans, along with the remaining ¼ cup olive oil, and toss gently. If the sauce looks dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water to it. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Divide among six bowls. Top with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a pinch of fleur de sel, and a sprinkling of sage for color, if you like.

Make Ahead: The meatballs can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, covered in plastic wrap. You can also freeze them in an airtight container for up to a month. The beans can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated, covered; reheat them gently, and add water to them if they look very dry.


Recipe courtesy of Barbara Lynch, Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.


Calories: 469
Protein: 25 grams
Fat: 23 grams
Saturated Fat: 4 grams
Carbohydrates: 42 grams
Fiber: 7 grams
Sodium: 174 milligrams

Yield: 6

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