Polpette of Potato with Avocado, Red Onion, and Cucumber Salad

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This dish is the creation of my wife, Ines. The mingling taste and textures of cold, crisp, fresh salad and warm, soft, rich polpette—patties—are not be to beaten, nor forgotten either. In spring, we like polpette for supper on their own with salad and when summer rolls around, we make an all-tomato salad to accompany them. In winter, we serve them alongside pork chops, roasts, and chicken, and any time of year we like them at breakfast with an egg on top. Children love them too; they like to cut them open and discover the warm, melting cheese inside.

NotesYou can flavor the potato mixture with a tablespoon of  herbes de Provence or red pepper flakes. Be careful when adding other flavorings, however; too much moisture or too large an amount of dried seasonings will make the polpette fall apart during cooking. If you have an electric skillet, use it for this recipe. Its even heat is terrific for cooking, polpette. My mom had one and loved it, which is how I learned to use it.


Cooking Methodpan-frying


Total Timeunder 1 hour

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course, side dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Mealbreakfast, brunch, dinner

Taste and Texturecheesy, creamy, crisp, herby, savory, tart

Type of Dishwarm salad


  • 1½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • ½ red onion
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 4 equal pieces
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut on the diagonal into ¼-inch-thick crescents
  • 2 avocados; pitted, peeled, and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 large, ripe tomato, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • ½ small head iceberg lettuce, shredded


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan with cold salted water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well, scatter on a baking sheet, and let cool for several minutes. Place in the oven to dry out, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then press through a ricer, the large holes of a box grater, or a colander.

  2. While the potatoes are in the oven, cut the onion half into quarters and slice thinly to yield slim pieces about 1 inch long. Put in a nonreactive bowl with the vinegar and oregano and let rest for 15 minutes.

  3. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper, then divide into 8 equal balls. Place a ball in the palm of your hand, top with a piece of cheese, and then a second potato ball. Shape the potato around the cheese to form a 4-inch patty. Repeat with the remaining potato balls and cheese. (The recipe may be prepared to this point, covered, and refrigerated up to 1 day before cooking.)

  4. Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat or in an electric frying skillet set at 350°F. Add the polpette and cook, turning once, until brown and crispy on both sides, about 10 minutes total.

  5. While the polpette are cooking, finish making the salad. Whisk the remaining ½ cup olive oil and salt and pepper to taste into the onion-vinegar mixture. Add the cucumber, avocados, and tomato and toss well.

  6. Arrange a nest of lettuce on each of 4-plates. Spoon the salad over each nest. Top with a polpette and spoon more dressing over all. Serve at once.

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