Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chicken Meatballs with Pasta al Pomodoro

I've been on a tear trying to eat out of the freezer and pantry as much as possible in recent weeks.  Looking for something to make with a package of ground chicken, I came across this Rachel Ray recipe for Chicken Parm Meatballs.  I changed up the meatball recipe a bit, and made a version of Bon Appetit's Pasta al Pomodoro for my sauce.  I'd come across the recipe a few weeks ago and thought it might make a good Meatless Monday dinner.  But now that I've served it with the meatballs, I'm sure the kids would think that something is missing!

My Chicken Meatballs with Pasta al Pomodoro comes together in about forty-five minutes -- time well spent for a soul-satisfying weeknight dinner.    And since much of that time is spent occasionally stirring whatever is in the skillet, you have the perfect opportunity to turn on some tunes and enjoy a glass of wine!  The meatballs are scrumptiously light and tender.   The spinach in them and the tomato sauce for the pasta give the dish a nutritional boost. I used whole wheat spaghetti for extra fiber. Add a simple green salad tossed with a light vinaigrette and you've got a happiness-inducing family dinner. If forty-five minutes is more than you can spare to cook a weeknight dinner, make the meatballs ahead of time on the weekend and rewarm them in the microwave or wrapped in foil in the oven.  The pomodoro sauce comes together in the time it takes the pasta to cook so you'll be dining in no time.  And still likely have time for that glass of wine.

Chicken Meatballs with Pasta al Pomodoro


For the Chicken Meatballs:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup minced onion
  • 2 ounces fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • olive oil cooking spray
For the Pasta al Pomodoro:
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon  Gourmet Garden Basil Herb Blend or basil pesto
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (divided)
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Put a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  3. Warm the olive oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until it softens and begins to brown.
  4. Add the spinach to the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes until it is wilted and any water has evaporated. 
  5. Add the garlic and cook another 1-3 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat and let the vegetables cool.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, bread crumbs, cheese, egg, tomato paste, salt and pepper.  When cool, add the vegetables and stir to combine.  Stir in the milk, adding it sparingly. 
  7. Spray a rimmed cookie sheet with olive oil cooking spray
  8. Roll the chicken mixture into 12 golf ball-sized meatballs and place them on the cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees.
  10. Wipe out the non-stick skillet and heat the 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.  Add the minced onion and cook for about 10 minutes until it softens and begins to brown.  Add the garlic and cook for 1-3 minutes.
  11. Increase the heat to medium and add the crushed red pepper flakes, tomatoes, basil puree, pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, until it thickens, about 20 minutes.
  12. Add the 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pot of boiling water then drop in the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions until it is not quite tender (about 2 minutes less than the prescribed cooking time).  Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  13. Turn the heat up to medium high and stir the pasta water into the sauce to loosen it.  Bring the sauce to a boil and stir in the drained pasta, continuing to stir until the sauce coats the pasta and the pasta is al dente.
  14. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls.  Top each with 3 meatballs and a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano and parsley.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes


The Café Sucré Farine said...

Looks wonderful, love the idea of using chicken, so much healthier!

Lynn said...

I don't even think you would know it was chicken. I'm thinking of doing another variation -- chicken meatball sliders. Likely to be a big hit with kids! Thanks, Lynn