This recipe is a fabulous combination of pureed potato, eggs, melted cheese and ham under a golden crunchy topping. Italian families I know cook this for big meals with friends as they know it’s a hit with children. It goes brilliantly with grilled or barbecued meats. For kids it’s a meal in itself with some veg and you can freeze leftovers in small portions. I first ate ‘gato di patate’ at a Marzo family barbecue in Viterbo. The lovely Mrs Marzo would take it upon herself to ‘feed me up’ whenever she saw me. As if my life as a restaurant frequenting journalist wasn’t quite nourishing enough. Elasticated waistbands are always essential at Marzo meals. She gets really upset if you don’t leave a clean plate. I don’t mind so much. We don’t have room in our house for dinner guests to lie beached on the floor.
Packed with protein, these ‘poor man’s meatballs’ are a traditional peasant dish from Calabria (the toe of Italy’s boot). When meat was scarce and costly, many families replaced it in recipes like this using fresh ricotta cheese which was cheap and plentiful. The lovely lady from Calabria who ran a tiny grocers shop opposite my flat in Rome was always extolling the virtues of ricotta, as well as telling me off for going out with wet hair and no make up, and asking when I was going to stop travelling around Italy on my own and get married. It’s not easy or cheap to get genuine fresh ricotta in the UK, but that doesn’t matter. Tubs of the supermarket stuff still work brilliantly to create this tasty nutritious dinner for all the family. I’ve also discovered this is a really useful recipe for teething toddlers as it’s incredibly soft to eat. Serve with pasta for an even heartier meal.Read More