Nonna’s Parmesan Rolls

Pallotte cacio e uova


One of my earliest cooking memories comes from grating day old Italian loaves to make the grated bread required to make these parmesan rolls. Every time I make this dish, I remember the delicious aroma of preparing this dish with my mom.  Being the eldest I was expected to help out with the cooking joining my mom almost weekly in the kitchen. Mostly, she instructed me to mix eggs, cheese and bread until I felt the right consistency.  After I shaped them into rolls, she tossed them into her tomato sauce and our family would enjoy a delicious and homey meal poured over pasta noodles. Often my brother and I fought over who would eat the last roll.




These were also made by my aunts and my parents’ friends, who had also emigrated from the Molise region of Italy. These rolls were considered poor food, as they came from a time when there was not enough money  to purchase meat to make meatballs.  Eggs, cheese and bread were plentiful in the small farming community that my my mom grew up in and were easily accessible. Cacio e uova are so delicious and loved, they are made to this day, even though money is not as big an issue.


Breadcrumbs are an important ingredient in this recipe, use fresh bread to make these easy and delicious breadcrumbs, you will be rewarded with light and airy Cajio e ovo.  Breadcrumbs from the store are dry and heavy which will result in heavy balls.

Nonna's Parmesan Rolls

  • Servings: 20 rolls
  • Print
  • 1  thickly sliced , French or Italian bread
  • 1 slice French or Italian bread, (about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick) torn into  pieces
  • 1 cup (250 mL)  whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying


  1. Place bread slice on oven shelf, bake in a preheated 350F (175C) oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until bread is dry and crisp,  turn bread slice over once or twice  Do not allow for bread slice to brown.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Place bread in food processor, (you can use blender or a grater as well) to process until bread forms coarse crumbs.  Set side 1/4 cup (60 mL) breadcrumbs for this recipe.
  2. In a small bowl toss the torn bread with the milk and set aside for about 5 minutes. Using your hands, squeeze some of the milk from the bread (the bread should be somewhat soggy), reserve the milk. Set aside.IMG_5825


  1. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs in a large bowl with a fork.  Add the cheese, breadcrumbs and milk bread to eggs, one at a time, stirring between additions.  Batter should be light and creamy, add about 1 to 2 Tbsps (15 to 30 mL) reserved milk to make a moist but not soupy batter (the mixture should stick together when you form a ball). Stir in the  parsley and garlic.  Loosely cover and set aside for 20 minutes in refrigerator.
  2. Using your hands, carefully shape the mixture into 2-inch (5 cm) ovals or fingers to form croquettes (or you can form small round balls). In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat about a 1-inch (2.5 cm) depth of oil to 375F (190C). Fry the croquettes in batches, 5 or 6 at a time for about 1 minute per side, until golden.  Drain on a wire rack.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.  (If not using immediately store in refrigerator or up to 3 days). If serving warm, transfer to a baking sheet and warm in a 200F (95C) oven.
  3. Garnish with parsley and serve as an appetizer with slices of melon and prosciutto or as a snack with tomato sauce for dipping.

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