I’m ALIIIIIIIIVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

I still have one more test (Art History, don’t EVER take it) between me and Spring Break, but my motivation is gone, so here I am. Hi.

So, once upon a time, like a month ago, I made Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs, from Giada’s Family Dinners. Ground chicken doesn’t exist in Athens, though, so it was really Mini Turkey Meatballs with Shell Pasta. I even got to try REAL mozzarella balls!

They were a total let down. I don’t know what sliced mozzarella tastes like, but the mozzarella balls we had had the texture of old gum and had NO flavor. The only thing I can say for the mozzarella was that it added a nice white pop to the dish.

Everything else was very delicious though, especially the meatballs. There’s something relaxing about forming raw meat, mixed with cheese and ketchup, into balls while getting bits of it stuck under your nails in the process.

Oh yeah, very soothing.

But seriously, this recipe was totally easy, and I imagine the meatballs would have formed easier if I had let them hang out in the fridge for half an hour. I also decided to bake the meatballs instead of frying for two reasons: 1. It was healthier to bake them and 2. I didn’t have enough oven space to accommodate another pot.

Here’s the recipe:
Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs
from Giada’s Family Dinners, serves 6

– 1 pound orecchiette pasta (I used shell pasta…it’s what I had on hand. And I only used 2 cups of dry pasta.)
– 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
– 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (fresh herbs don’t exist in this apartment)
– 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
– 1 tablespoon whole milk
– 1 tablespoon ketchup
– 3/4 cup grated Romano (I only used 1/4 a cup…3/4 seemed excessive, and I don’t think we missed it)
– 3/4 teaspoon salt
– 1 pound ground chicken ((Helloooo ground turkey)
– 1/4 cup olive oil (Since I baked my meatballs, I only needed 1 tbsp for the onion I sauteed)
– 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, hot (I used one cup, not hot)
– 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (Fresh cheese, that’s funny)
– 8 ounces bocconcini mozzarella, halved
– 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (See parsley for fresh herb commentary)

I added in a whole onion, just because we’re big fans of onions in this apartment.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta. Cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, mix the cheese, milk, eggs, ketchup, bread crumbs, salt, (dry, use about 1 tbsp) parsley and pepper into a bowl. Mix completely, then add the thawed meat and mixed until just combined.

Turn your oven’s broiler on while you form the meatballs. Form 1 tablespoon meatballs and put on a greased baking sheet. Broil in the oven for ten minutes, or until completely cooked.

While the meatballs and pasta are cooking, heat the oil and add in the onion (chopped in chunks) and let it soften, 7-8 minutes. Throw in a clove of garlic, then add the chicken broth and tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, then let simmer for five minutes. I decided on a whim to add in some baby spinach, just for some green color.

Once the pasta is done, drain it and add to the tomato mixture, along with the mozzarella balls, but only if you want to chew old gum. If you prefer a gumless pasta, skip the cheese and just sprinkle some Romano cheese on top, or if you’re like me and worship the ground Italian Salad Dressing mix walks on, stir some of that into the mix.

Serve the pasta mix into a bowl and add 3-4 meatballs on top.

The meatballs were definitely the best part – I think it was better to use turkey meat, only because chicken is so tasteless. Giada’s recipe was made with kids in mind, so the meatballs needed a flavor boost.

(Just FYI – that white stuff coming off the meatballs = Romano cheese, not fat. Well, I’m sure a little of it is, but I think most of it is melted cheese. I was a little alarmed at first, not going to lie.)

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