Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

It’s been all about the little things lately for me. Updates from Pinterest that not only will they now warn me when I’m about to pin the same chocolate cake for the 3rd time, but also that my pins are now searchable. Listening to my favorite playlists while mowing the lawn, and totally justifying it as my workout for the day. Also, the smell of that freshly cut grass. Scoring 6 pints of organic blueberries on a crazy sale at Whole Foods last week, and the blueberry pie that resulted. Super quick, easy and healthy weeknight dinners consisting of these chicken parmesan meatballs and a big pile of steamed sugar snap peas.

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

I think I may have mentioned this before, but over the past few months one of the local grocery stores has had ground chicken on sale repeatedly, and cheap enough that it warrants buying 4 or 5 pounds at a time (it’d be even more if I had the space in my freezer!). It means we’ve had the opportunity to try a ton of new recipes utilizing ground chicken, and I can say without any hesitation that these meatballs are our favorite. They stay moist in the oven and though ground chicken definitely has the potential to be boring and bland, it’s anything but here. The meatballs are loaded with Parmesan and taste super cheesy yet aren’t complete diet wreckers; three meatballs come in at under 250 calories. The original recipe also included a thick slice of fresh mozzarella on top of each meatball melted under the broiler, and if you’re not counting your calories, that would probably be a pretty awesome addition :)

As luck would have it, ground chicken is on sale again this week so I’m off to the store as we speak to load up. I have a feeling next week’s meal plan will involve these meatballs at least once or twice…

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
adapted from Dinner: A Love Story

{Note: I’ve made these with both traditional ground chicken (white and dark meat) and extra lean (only breast meat) and didn’t notice much of a difference so now I routinely use extra lean meat to shave off a few more calories.}

1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
zest of half a lemon
1 1/4 lb ground chicken
marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, onion, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic, egg, and lemon zest until well combined. Add the ground chicken and use your hands to gently mix together with the other ingredients (don’t overmix). Using about 1/4 cup of the mixture for each one (I used my ice cream scoop to keep them all the same size), form the meatballs by rolling the mixture into a ball with your hands. Arrange the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet.

Brush the top of each meatball with a little of the marinara sauce. Bake for about 14-15 minutes, or until the meatballs are golden brown and cooked through (they should register 165 F on an instant-read thermometer). When you take them out of the oven, brush the tops of the meatballs with a little more of the marinara sauce before serving.

To make ahead: Cook the meatballs then allow them to cool to room temperature. Place on a baking sheet and freeze until solid, then transfer to a resealable plastic bag. When ready to eat, defrost the meatballs in the refrigerator then reheat for 15 minutes in a 350 F oven.

Makes about 12 meatballs