At last, only one exam left in the semester! The only caveat is that I have to wait another week to take it. What ever shall I do to fill the time? (besides studying for that exam, which I might do a little bit of 😉 )
Mainly, the long lag means shopping, holiday parties, mini excursions, lots of cooking and recipe testing (get excited!), and catching up on long-overdue posts like this one. In fact, I have about 7 drafts lined up with recipes, some I’ve been meaning to share for months!
Case in point: THIS skillet meatball sauce
You really can’t go wrong with pasta and meatballs, but this comfort food classic is especially amazing when made healthy, extra satisfying, and extra flavorful. The meatballs and sauce even come together in ONE PAN. Win.
These meatballs are very similar to those in my Pomodoro Meatballs over Parmesan Polenta, but they’re definitely worth emphasizing again. I use lean chicken breast (pulsed in a food processor and mixed with some Italian magic), and let the meatballs simmer with the sauce and veggies to juicy, tender perfection. You can forget about dry or boring white meat, because these babies are rockstars–moist and flavorful! Over the years of experimenting with this recipe, the most tender meatballs have come from the chicken strip/food processor method. Store-bought ground white meat can be drier and more packed, which makes a big difference for the meatballs.
For the sauce, my all-time favorite is Dave’s Red Heirloom. The taste is light and fresh, full and flavorful without being overly “tomatoey.” It blends beautifully with the seasoned mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, artichokes, garlic, and parm in this recipe (so essentially every tomato pasta dish I make!)
- 4 oz whole grain linguine
- 8 oz raw skinless bonesless chicken breast*
- 1 Tbsp whole grain breadcrumbs**
- 1 cup + 1 Tbsp pasta sauce***
- 1 tsp EVOO, divided
- 1 egg white
- 1 tsp minced garlic, divided
- 1.5 tsp dried Italian seasoning, divided
- 1/4 tsp dried fennel
- 1 Tbsp freshly shredded parmesan, plus more for topping
- salt/black pepper, to taste
- 4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 1/2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1 oz jarred artichoke hearts, chopped
- Add fennel to a dry skillet over medium-low heat; toast 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. (optional)
- Add chicken breast to a food processor. Pulse about 10 times, or until no large pieces remain. Transfer to a bowl.
- Add to the meat 1 Tbsp breadcrumbs, 1 Tbsp pasta sauce, 1/2 tsp EVOO, egg white, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, toasted fennel, 1 Tbsp parmesan, and a pinch salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with hands until well-combined. (If the mixture seems too wet, keep mixing and it should begin to take shape.) Form into 8 small/medium meatballs.
- Heat 1/2 tsp EVOO in a medium skillet (or more if not nonstick) over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, and remaining 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning. Sauté, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes (don't cook them all the way at this point!). Stir in 1/2 tsp garlic and cook another 30 sec.
- Remove skillet from heat, then stir in 1 cup pasta sauce and artichokes. Place meatballs into sauce, and lightly spoon some of the sauce over the meatballs.
- Bring sauce to a light boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer (covered) 12-15 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through. (Try not to overcook!)
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions; drain.
- Divide pasta into 2 shallow bowls, and top each with 4 meatballs and sauce. Add more parmesan to taste.
- *I use 4 tenderloin strips.
- **Toast whole grain bread; cool; pulse in a food processor until fine crumbs form; transfer to a freezer baggy and freeze the rest for later!
- ***I highly recommend Dave's Red Heirloom