Sunday, October 30, 2011

Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs

This is another recipe from Giada's Every Day Italian-Episode Kids Camping-that I wanted to try (my Venetian Rolled Pizza post from 10/25/11 is also from this episode). I've never made ground chicken meatballs, none the less used a recipe with ground chicken in it, so this was a first for me, but not the last because it was sooo good and got high ratings from Ant! This has a light cherry tomato sauce that glazes over the orecchiette with parmesan, so its not too heavy.
Giada's recipe does call for fresh flat leaf parsley, but Ant's not a big fan of parsley so I substituted that for Italian Seasoning instead. My grocer did not have bocconcini mozzarella that day at the store, so instead I used a mozzarella ball that I just cut up into smaller cubes and works just the same!

  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs (I used Cento flavored breadcrumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 3/4 cup grated Romano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock,  hot
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 8 ounces bocconcini mozzarella, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, italian seasoning, eggs, milk, ketchup, Romano 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.
  • 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.
  • Add the chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits that cling to 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 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.
Since I cook for two, this leaves plenty of leftovers which is great, because I love when meals make at least 2 meals, especially if its during the work week.  I stored in a Pyrex safe baking dish with a lid, so easy storage in the fridge and then you can either heat up in the microwave or throw in the oven with some extra cheese on top if you wish! Enjoy, Ciao Bella!
Total Time:30 minutes
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 10 min
Interval: Intermediate
Serves: 4-6 servings

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