home cooked dinners by the season

Chicken Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

Chicken Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

My daughter’s boyfriend is a huge fan of turkey meatballs. Particularly the ones pre-made at Trader Joe’s because as a college student athlete who does a lot of his own cooking – easy, healthy and good tasting food is a priority.

So when he was visiting last week, I knew I would have a captive audience to try this new recipe for Chicken Meatballs with Marinara Sauce. This is a simple recipe – it is not spicy or complex. If you want that, then add spices or herbs to the meatballs. I have paired it down to the bare necessity ingredients to make flavorful meatballs and sauce with the intention of it being really easy to prepare to inspire making it from scratch, rather than buying pre-made.

As always, the key is to begin with quality ingredients. I prefer using organic, free-range chicken. Many butcher departments in grocery stores carry it ground in their fresh meat case. I prefer the flavor of chicken, but you can easily substitute ground turkey. Italian parsley over curly parsley as it has more flavor.  Get the best quality canned tomatoes – I prefer the “Pomi” brand strained tomatoes that are in the BPA-free carton style container. If you cannot find them, then any high quality canned crushed tomatoes will work fine.

The next day we had leftover meatballs and sauce, so my daughter suggested making meatball sandwiches. They were amazing! Be sure to start with a really fresh loaf of baguette bread.

Chicken Meatballs with Marinara Sauce
 
Serves: 4-5 (about 20 meatballs)
Ingredients
  • Meatballs:
  • 1 pound ground chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • Marinara Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 (26.8 ounce) cartons “Pomi” brand strained tomatoes (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Cooked spaghetti noodles
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. For the meatballs, thoroughly mix together chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper; form into 1-1/2 inch balls by rolling in the palms of your hands (you will have approximately 20 meatballs). In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat; add meatballs and cook until browned, about 5 minutes, turning frequently while cooking. Remove meatballs and set aside.
  2. If necessary, add additional 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same pan; add onion and garlic and cook and stir until onions are softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes, oregano, sugar and parsley; bring to simmer; add meatballs, turning to coat evenly in sauce; cover and cook over low heat until meatballs are cooked through and sauce is slightly thickened, about 25-30 minutes.
  3. Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles and top with Parmesan cheese.
Notes
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes can be substituted.

Next Day Meatball Sandwich
 
Serves: 1 open-face sandwich
Ingredients
  • 3-4 cooked meatballs
  • ¼ baguette bread, cut in half, widthwise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup marinara sauce
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan, Mozzarella or White Cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Sliced meatballs into ¼ inch slices; set aside.
  2. Lightly toast both sides of baguette bread; then brush cut side with olive oil and half the marinara sauce. Arrange sliced meatballs on cut side of baguette; top with remaining marinara sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Broil until meatballs are heated and cheese is melted.

 


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