Taste of Sicily Meatballs


Passoli e pinoli (currants and pine nuts) are commonly used in many Sicilian dishes.

Currants are black Corinth grapes that have been dried like raisins, only they are much smaller (not to be confused with fresh, red currants, related to the gooseberry).

In baking, currants and raisins are generally interchangeable. However, the smaller size of the currants makes them preferable in recipes (like this one) where a more even distribution of tiny bits of sweetness is desired. If you don’t have currants, you can always just chop an equal amount of raisins.

No sauce needed for these little meatballs, as they are full of flavor and attitude (like all of the Sicilians I know) and are perfect for Merende (small bites).


  • 2/3 cup soft breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons currants (or raisins, chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Black pepper
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages
  1. In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs and milk, let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the egg, cheese, onion, basil, pine nuts, currants, salt, garlic and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.
  3. Remove casings  from sausage, add sausage to mixture. With your hands, (it’s really the best way to mix it properly) squish mixture through your fingers to thoroughly mix all of the ingredients.
  4. Shape into meatballs, I yield 22 with this recipe. I always make two batches at a time, (using separate bowls) so I end up with some to freeze.
  5. Bake in a 350*oven for 30-35 minutes.  (Turn over half way through cooking).
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