4 medium eggs
2 cups grated [Parmigiano Reggiano] cheese*
1 cup home-made semi-dry Italian breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper (optional)
* Pecorino comes closest to home-made country sheep cheese made in Molise prior to World War II. However, the majority of first-generation immigrants from Molise living in Montreal (including the contributor's mother) now use Parmigiano Reggiano for this recipe.
Tomato Sauce made with Fresh Tomatoes [See recipe]
Tomato Sauce made with Tomato Paste [See recipe]
Peperonata ["Chabot"] sauce [See recipe]
To make the breadcrumbs
Place Italian-style country bread in a paper bag.
Let it dry for about 3 to 4 days.
Remove crust and discard it.
Grate the bread, using a grater with large holes.
To make the cheese rolls
Chop fresh parsley.
Add grated cheese and breadcrumbs to the eggs. Mix well.
Add chopped parsley. Mix well.
The mixture should be thick enough so that it can easily be molded. If the mixture is too soft, add more cheese. If the mixture is too hard, add a touch more beaten egg.
Take a handful of the mixture and shape it into a roll -- about 3 inches long and 1 inch thick.
Cook the cheese rolls for about 20 minutes in a tomato-based sauce such as "peperonata" or in any other kind of tomato-based sauce that one would stew vegetables in.
Serve the cheese rolls either warm, with red peppers or other kinds of vegetables, or cut up the cheese rolls into small pieces and serve them at room temperature as part of an entre.
Apparently in many towns "cace e ova" (cheese and egg rolls) were made only with cheese and eggs. Such was the case in the town of Castelmauro, Molise, according to my mother's neighbor, Pina. However, I suspect in poorer households the mixture was thickened with breadcrumbs to save on cheese. Personally, this cheese-egg-and-bread mixture is superior to that made exclusively with cheese and eggs. The "cace e ova" seen in the photo attached to this entry were made by my mother with cheese, eggs and breadcrumbs. I found the resulting cheese rolls to be surprisingly delicious. I say surprising because my mother had never made them in Canada after all these years here. Actually, she had never made them in Italy either. Her parents did not own sheep, so they did not have enough cheese to make "cace e ova" when she was growing up. She learned how to make the traditional "cace e ova" from her mother-in-law after she got married. Her in-laws owned lots of sheep. The odd thing is that she never made this dish in Canada even though she could afford to do so. As previously noted, my mother, like many other first-generation Italians, forever use "Parmigiano Reggiano" in all their recipes. I suspect the reason for this is because this cheese is quite exquisite. First-generation Italians don't have much nostalgia for the foods they grew up on. At least my mother doesn't. That's too bad as many of the foods they did make (and no longer make) are good enough to serve to guests, picky guests at that. Photo: Mary Melfi.