I can’t believe August is already over. It seems like I was just standing outside, looking up at fireworks blasting across the sky for July 4th. August was full of ups and downs for me, but luckily no hurricanes came my way (just excessive heat warnings). No matter what is going on in life, it’s always a comfort to me to know a good meal or treat is just a few steps away. It’s amazing how relaxing baking a cake or simmering a sauce can be.
What are your favorite ways to relax?
By the way, if you didn’t already know orecchiette is just a pasta shape and is Italian for “little ears”. If you can’t find it you can easily substitute pasta shells, rotini, fusilli, bow ties, or wagon wheels.
Taste: Simple, very much like a caprese salad with the addition of cheesy, salty, crave-worthy meatballs and yummy pasta.
Texture: The pasta is perfectly al dente, the tomatoes are juicy, the cheesy is melting, and the meatballs are perfectly caramelized on the outside and tender inside.
Ease: The meatballs take some time to assemble but they take less time to cook.
Appearance: My favorite part of this dish! Everything is an adorable little sphere.
Pros: Crave-worthy, perfect for kids, beautiful presentation.
Cons: Although ground chicken is cheap, the Parmesan, Romano, and Mozzarella can add up. Luckily cheese was 30% off at the store this week!
Would I make this again? Yes.
How to make Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta
- 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 8 ounces bocconcini (small mozzarella balls), halved
- 1 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, 8-10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, Romano cheese, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken and combine well. Using a melon baller or 1 teaspoon measure, scoop the mixture into 3/4-inch mini meatballs onto a greased or lined sheet pan.
Heat the oil in a large skillet 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 and brown the tops, about 2 minutes longer. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the tomatoes are soft and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl and add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Toss to coat the orecchiette lightly, adding some of the reserved pasta water to help make a sauce. Add the meatball mixture, bocconcini, and 1/2 cup of the basil and combine. Garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan and remaining basil.
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