Episode 50: Italian Winter Dinner Party -Polpette all’uccelletto - Sausage meatballs cooked in stewed beans, Orange Dijon Vinaigrette with Fresh Thyme, and Ciambellone


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Welcome to our fifth dinner party! We’re happy to have you over (at least in our podcast) to share some wintery, Italian dishes that will warm up heart and soul. Jul’s Kitchen has a recipe for sausage meatballs and beans all braised together in a stew that’s comforting yet perfect for cozy party. Put that together with a citrus salad dressed with an the Orange Dijon Vinaigrette with Fresh Thyme from What a Girl Eats, and you’re set for a winter dinner party. We would never forget dessert so we have a Smitten Kitchen, one-bowl cake called Ciambellone. Lightly scented and perfect with coffee, it is a lovely sweet to end the meal. Or have for breakfast the next day.

Polpette all’uccelletto - Sausage meatballs cooked in stewed beans : Jul’s Kitchen

Creamy white cannellini beans are stewed in sage and tomato sauce. Nestle in some sausage meatballs made with fennel seed, garlic, and sage. A hard to resist winter combination!


  • Serve with hunks of good bread and butter or slices of a country loaf toasted/broiled with lashings of olive oil.

  • Canned beans worked well here. Kate cooked her own but made them in the Instant Pot the day before.

  • Fresh sage is subtle in this dish.If you must use dried, consider only a ¼ teaspoon for the meatballs. Add another ¼ teaspoon to the beans after you add the cooking liquid and tomato paste.

Orange Dijon Vinaigrette with Fresh Thyme: What a Girl Eats

The season’s citrus is put to good use in this vinaigrette. Orange juice with dijon and a bit of thyme bring fresh and bright notes into the kitchen. We especially liked the orange as a change of pace from typical lemon dressings.


  • Delicious with citrus salads or winter greens, this was also a hit mixed into cooked French lentils for a great lunch item.

  • Fresh squeezed is nice but we don’t think many will notice if you use oj from the pitcher in the fridge.

Ciambellone: Smitten Kitchen

Tea cakes are found all over Italy. Usually baked in a round mold, they’re a subtly sweet bite with coffee or after a meal. This cake features citrus zest and a lemon glaze that takes it right over the top.


  • Betsy omitted the glaze in favor of non-sticky kid hands. However, Kate thought the glaze was delicious, if you can handle it.

  • We made this in a bundt and in an angel food cake pan. Both worked well. In either case, make sure to grease it well.

  • Wrapped well, the cake kept for several days.

  • We found this cake to be ideal to gift. Wrapped well, it kept for several days and the sturdy crumb and tube cake shape meant a big hunk could be wrapped, given away, and make it home without too much fuss.

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