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Bologna’s rustic dumplings need only breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and egg
Milk Street Bowtie Passatelli in Brodo

Passatelli in Brodo

1¼ hours 30 minutes active

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Passatelli in Brodo

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In the tiny village of Monteveglio, about 12 miles west of Bologna, Italy, we tasted delicious home-cooked passatelli in brodo. Paolo Parmeggiani, owner of the small restaurant/hotel Trattoria del Borgo demonstrated the dish—made with stale bread, cheese, eggs, broth and little else—which exemplifies cucina povera, or peasant cooking. Passatelli are cylindrical dumplings—like fat, short spaghetti—made by extruding dough through smallish holes; the dumplings are simply poached and served in chicken broth. We found that in lieu of a traditional passatelli maker, a potato ricer with 3/16-inch perforations works well for extruding the dough. Another alternative is to use a cooling rack with a ⅜-inch wire grid (instructions are included in the recipe). To make passatelli dough, Italian cooks use stale bread processed into breadcrumbs, but since we rarely have leftover bread, and in order to consistently produce a dough with the proper texture, we use Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs. We highly recommend using homemade chicken broth. If using purchased broth, consider upping its flavor by adding a chunk of Parmesan rind and/or ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes.

4-6

Servings

Tip

Don’t use pre-grated Parmesan or domestic Parmesan-like cheese. With so few ingredients in the passatelli, true Parmigiano Reggiano is essential for flavor. Purchase it in a chunk, not pre-grated, as the cheese loses freshness once it’s grated. Plus, if you buy a chunk, you will have a piece of rind to simmer in the broth as a flavor booster.

1¼ hours

30 minutes active

4 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
8 ounces Parmesan cheese without rind, cut into rough 1-inch chunks, plus shaved Parmesan to serve
2½ cups (6½ ounces) panko breadcrumbs
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg, plus more to serve
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken broth (see note)
Ingredients
  • 4

    large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks

  • 3

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve

  • 8

    ounces Parmesan cheese without rind, cut into rough 1-inch chunks, plus shaved Parmesan to serve

  • cups (6½ ounces) panko breadcrumbs

  • ¼

    teaspoon grated nutmeg, plus more to serve

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 2

    quarts low-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken broth (see note)

Directions
  1. 01
    In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks, ¾ cup water and 1 tablespoon of the oil. In a food processor, process the Parmesan chunks until finely ground, about 20 seconds. Add the panko, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Process until the mixture is powdery, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, add the egg mixture, then process until smooth, about 1 minute. Let rest in the food processor for 5 minutes; the mixture will thicken as it stands.
  2. 02
    Process for another 10 seconds. The mixture will be thick but smooth and resemble mashed potatoes. Scrape it into a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes or refrigerate for up to 1 hour; the mixture will thicken further as it stands.
  3. 03
    Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment and brush the parchment with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil; set aside. In a large pot over medium-high, bring the broth to a boil. Transfer one-third of the dough to the hopper of a ricer with 3/16-inch perforations. Press the dough directly over the pot of simmering broth until it forms rough 3-inch lengths, then shake the ricer to release the dough into the broth. Repeat with the dough remaining in the ricer. (Alternatively, place a rack with a ⅜-inch wire grid across the pot of simmering broth. Scoop one-third of the dough onto the center of the rack, then use a silicone spatula to press the dough through the wires, allowing the dumplings to fall into the broth; rap the rack to release the last bits of dough into the pot.)
  4. 04
    Cook the passatelli until it floats to the surface, then continue to cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the passatelli, letting it drain, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Cook the remaining dough in two more batches in the same way, then remove the pot from the heat. Let the passatelli rest for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to help it cool; it will firm up as it cools.
  5. 05
    Return the broth to a simmer over medium-high, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Divide the passatelli among individual bowls and ladle in the broth. Top each serving with shaved Parmesan and grated nutmeg, then drizzle with oil.
Tip: Don’t use pre-grated Parmesan or domestic Parmesan-like cheese. With so few ingredients in the passatelli, true Parmigiano Reggiano is essential for flavor. Purchase it in a chunk, not pre-grated, as the cheese loses freshness once it’s grated. Plus, if you buy a chunk, you will have a piece of rind to simmer in the broth as a flavor booster.
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Reviews
Manal S.

Heads up, you missed a TK :) "We came up with a simple Instant Pot version (p. TK)"

Lynn C.

Hi Manal -

Thanks for the heads up! Our digital team is taking care of this as we speak.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Mary Beth E.

Guessing a spaetzle maker would work as well. I had this at a beautiful Inn (Al Ciocco) in Emilia-Romagna when I was a bit under the weather. The chef Gabriella Costi made them from leftover dinner rolls.

David E.

I made this last month. It's in the pantheon. I would love to try this with matzoh meal for the coming holiday. Or matzohs processed into panko-like crumbs. Any suggestions or should I head out into this Sinai on my own? (I realize that real parmesan is probably not kosher, but do I sound like a I care about that?)

Michael K.

Pure comfort & bliss...I can’t recommend this more highly. Kinda like matzoh ball soup but with an Italian twist.

Georgianne M.

I am happily waiting for the passatelli to cool. My first batch didn't turn out as firm and puffy as the rest of the batches. The broth wasn't simmering enough. Instead of simmer, I'd say the broth is closer to a low boil. I'm adding some chicken to it since it's for lunch. Also tossing in a few peas and carrots just for giggles. I've tasted the passatelli. The consistency is like spaetzle. It almost looks like polenta in color. I used some parmsan reggiano and grana padano cheese. I thought it would taste too strong, but it does not. It's very good. It's a nice change from plain old pasta or rice in a soup.


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Passatelli in Brodo

Get Ready to Cook

4-6

Servings

1¼ hours

30 minutes active

Tip

Don’t use pre-grated Parmesan or domestic Parmesan-like cheese. With so few ingredients in the passatelli, true Parmigiano Reggiano is essential for flavor. Purchase it in a chunk, not pre-grated, as the cheese loses freshness once it’s grated. Plus, if you buy a chunk, you will have a piece of rind to simmer in the broth as a flavor booster.

Ingredients
  • 4

    large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks

  • 3

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve

  • 8

    ounces Parmesan cheese without rind, cut into rough 1-inch chunks, plus shaved Parmesan to serve

  • cups (6½ ounces) panko breadcrumbs

  • ¼

    teaspoon grated nutmeg, plus more to serve

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 2

    quarts low-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken broth (see note)

Step 1 of 5

Make Passatelli Dough

4
large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
1
tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8
ounces Parmesan cheese without rind, cut into rough 1-inch chunks
cups (6½ ounces) panko breadcrumbs
¼
teaspoon grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks, ¾ cup water and 1 tablespoon of the oil. In a food processor, process the Parmesan chunks until finely ground, about 20 seconds. Add the panko, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.


Process until the mixture is powdery, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, add the egg mixture, then process until smooth, about 1 minute. Let rest in the food processor for 5 minutes; the mixture will thicken as it stands.

Step 2 of 5

Rest Dough

Process for another 10 seconds. The mixture will be thick but smooth and resemble mashed potatoes. Scrape it into a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes or refrigerate for up to 1 hour; the mixture will thicken further as it stands.

Step 3 of 5

Rice Dough Into Broth

2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2
quarts low-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken broth (see note)

Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment and brush the parchment with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil; set aside. In a large pot over medium-high, bring the broth to a boil. Transfer one-third of the dough to the hopper of a ricer with 3/16-inch perforations.


Press the dough directly over the pot of simmering broth until it forms rough 3-inch lengths, then shake the ricer to release the dough into the broth. Repeat with the dough remaining in the ricer. (Alternatively, place a rack with a ⅜-inch wire grid across the pot of simmering broth.


Scoop one-third of the dough onto the center of the rack, then use a silicone spatula to press the dough through the wires, allowing the dumplings to fall into the broth; rap the rack to release the last bits of dough into the pot.)

Step 4 of 5

Cook Passatelli

Cook the passatelli until it floats to the surface, then continue to cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the passatelli, letting it drain, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet.


Cook the remaining dough in two more batches in the same way, then remove the pot from the heat. Let the passatelli rest for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to help it cool; it will firm up as it cools.

Step 5 of 5

Taste, Season and Serve

Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Shaved Parmesan to serve
Grated nutmeg to serve
Extra-virgin olive oil to serve

Return the broth to a simmer over medium-high, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Divide the passatelli among individual bowls and ladle in the broth. Top each serving with shaved Parmesan and grated nutmeg, then drizzle with oil.

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