Pasta w/Mini Chicken Meatballs

Recipe loosely adapted from Giada at Home.

Check out the hilarious story behind this adventure in the kitchen here.

  • 1 lb. whole wheat pasta (I recommend orechiette for this because it fits perfectly with the mini meatballs)
  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten  (Don’t use egg beaters, like I tried to do.)
  • 1 tablespoon 2% milk
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (divided)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb.  ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup diced shallot
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 6 ounces bocconcini mozzarella, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  While you are waiting for the water to boil, prep the meatballs.

In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and the salt and pepper.  Add the chicken and gently stir to combine.  Using a melon baller (or a teaspoon measure), form the chicken mixture into 3/4-inch pieces. With damp hands, roll the chicken pieces into mini meatballs.

Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

In a large (14-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook without moving until brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes.  Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, about 2 minutes longer. Remove all the meatballs to make the sauce base.

At this point, your pasta water should be boiling.  Add the pasta and cook to al dente (tender but still firm to the bite), stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Back to the empty meatball pan, add the shallot and garlic.  Cook until softened (not more than 1-2 minutes or the garlic will burn).  Add the chicken stock and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits (a.k.a. flavor) on the bottom of the pan.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes are soft and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.  Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and add the remaining Parmesan.  Toss to lightly coat orecchiette, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta.  Add the meatball mixture, mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup of the basil.  Gently toss to combine.  Garnish with the chopped basil.

Yield: MASSIVE amounts of pasta. 8 servings in our house.

Nutritional info (per serving)
Calories — 426
Saturated fat — 4.8 g
Cholesterol — 114 mg
Sodium — 391 mg
Carbohydrate — 47.7 g
Dietary fiber — 6 g
Sugar — 5.4 g
Protein — 29 g

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