Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dinner! Chicken & Arugula Meatballs in Tomato Sauce and Pear Salad

We had some friends from Kansas who are in Utah for the holidays come over for dinner a few days ago.  For some reason that day I was craving spaghetti so I planned to just make that for dinner.  Kevin reminded me that Dan doesn’t like spaghetti, as in there's only one food he really dislikes and it’s spaghetti.  Not the sauce, but the actual spaghetti pasta, it gives him the heebie-jeebies.  Weird.  He said he likes all other pasta.  I then remembered some meatballs I’d had in one of Paige's classes back in Kansas and I decided those are what I’d make and serve with penne pasta.

Try as I might, I can’t seem to do justice to savory food in photos.  Kevin got me a light box for Christmas, maybe once I figure that out I’ll get better.  But I did snap a few pictures of these fabulous meatballs.  One of the keys to making these is to make them small—the more the merrier, then everyone can have a plateful of meatballs instead of just one or two big ones.  This recipe makes 60 meatballs with one pound of ground poultry.  Another great reason to make these meatballs is that they freeze well.  Check out Paige's post about them from a few months ago.  These are perfect for pulling out of the freezer when you need a quick meal.

The meatballs were very well liked by our company (they begged for the recipe ;).  Paige has posted the recipe on her blog, which is adapted from an article in Food & Wine magazine back in the 90’s. 


Chicken & Arugula Meatballs in Tomato Sauce, by Paige Vandegrift, adapted from Food & Wine Magazine (My changes are in red—Katrina)

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for sautéing the meatballs (I ran out of olive oil and used canola)
3 thin slices pancetta or bacon, (about 2 ounces), chopped (I used bacon)
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 oz. arugula (or spinach), stemmed and finely chopped (I used spinach)
1 pound ground chicken (dark meat is best) (I used ground white turkey meat and it was a 19 oz. package)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs (I used Panko bread crumbs)
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese (about 1 ½ ounces)
2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large shallots, minced
¼ cup brandy, white wine or water is also fine (I used some chicken stock)

One 35-ounce can Italian (Roma) peeled whole tomatoes with juice, coarsely chopped in a food processor (this is a difficult sized can to find, a 28-oz. can is fine, but you can add half of a 14-oz. can if you like a lot of sauce) (I used both a full 28 oz can and a 14 oz can)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme (I used about 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large non-reactive skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the pancetta/bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the arugula and cook, stirring, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, bread crumbs, cheese, capers, egg, ¾ teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Add the arugula mixture and beat until well blended. Roll the mixture by teaspoonfuls into ¾ -inch balls.
In a large skillet, heat some more olive oil. Add half of the meatballs in a single layer and cook over moderate heat, turning, until browned all over, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a large plate. Repeat with the second batch of meatballs, adding more oil if necessary. Discard the fat and wipe out the skillet.
In the same skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the brandy/stock/water, whichever you’re using, raise the heat to high and cook until evaporated. Add the tomatoes and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thickened, about 8 minutes.
Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer over low heat until hot through and very tender—15 to 20 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.  Serve with one pound of any pasta if desired.


I sauteed them in three batches.




Almost ready!


These are some great meatballs and a simple tomato sauce.  To go with the pasta and meatballs, I decided to make a Fresh Crispy Pear Salad that Suzanne at Thru The Bugs on My Windshield posted recently.  I just served the salad with some mixed greens and it was great as well. 


You can get the recipe on the link above to Suzanne’s blog.  Check out her amazing pictures!  Served with some good crusty whole grain bread, this meal was perfect and I could eat it everyday and was happy to share it with company!


Kayte said...

I am so dessert-ed out that it is not even I was so happy to see this post as it all looks absolutely wonderfully delicious! YUM. Happy New Year to you and the guys from me and the guys!

Suzanne said...

Wow, that look awesome and I love the arugula you used! I am actually a bigger fan of penne that spaghetti because it has substance and texture that spaghetti doesn't have, IMHO. Great job! And I'm glad you enjoyed the pear salad!

Unknown said...

It was delicious Katrina! This is one I will have to add to my arsenal. I am sure Liz and the girls won't mind.

Unknown said...

The meatballs are so darn pretty, I love the idea of them. Happy New Year

Paige said...


The meatballs look great! I will have to make up a batch to fill up my freezer for the winter. The salad looks good too--I think I may make it to go with some soup for NYE dinner.

Thanks for the link to my blog. Happy New Year!

Valerie said...

Some foods are just hard to photograph, but this sure looks good to me, along with that salad! I hope you enjoy the last few days of your hubby at home before he has to start teaching again. :) Have a great new year!!!!

Shelby said...

I don't think your photos are bad at all! I am definitely convinced to try these meatballs. I'm putting Grumpy on a diet. ;) Seems like a good recipe to start out with!

Anonymous said...

Yum! I like meatballs but never seem to make them. This version sounds so good, either with spinach or arugula.

Unknown said...

I'm the same way with spaghetti - it makes me think of worms, haha!

Maria said...

Great pasta dish! Happy New Year!

Megan said...

Ohhh, Katrina! Now I want meatballs. These look fantastic, pretty healthy (which I need right now), and something the kid would eat. It's a win/win recipe! :)
I have that salad bookmarked too. I think I'll make it and take to the NYE bash tonight! Thanks for the salad reminder.
Happy New Year Katrina! Here's to another great year!

Amanda said...

How wonderful Katrina! I have that pear salad on my list to try as well :) Funny, we had meatballs this week! Only we had them on their own with mashed potatoes and gravy. It was a nice change!

CaSaundraLeigh said...

Looks like it turned out to be a fabulous meal--I am sure your guests were very pleased with it!

Shelby said...

I made posted this today Katrina! Thanks!

marla said...

You put so many of my all time favorite ingredients in these meatballs. This dinner looks awesome!

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