Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce

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Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6

Chicken has a significantly lower calorie and fat content than the traditional beef or pork base for meatballs. Adding spinach to them is an easy way of slipping more vegetables into your diet. The meatballs are swimming in a fiery, metabolism-boosting tomato sauce, so you won’t even miss the spaghetti.


For the meatballs:

  • 5 oz. (155 g) spinach leaves
  • 1 lb. (500 g) ground chicken
  • 6 Tbs. (1 oz./30 g) whole-wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the spicy tomato sauce:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) dry red wine
  • 1 can (28 oz./875 g) diced tomatoes with juices

  • 1/4 cup (3/4 oz./20 g) chopped fresh basil


To make the meatballs, bring a saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the spinach and cook just until wilted, about 3 minutes. Drain well and then wrap the spinach in a clean kitchen towel to squeeze out any remaining moisture. Finely chop and transfer to a large bowl.

Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Add the ground chicken, panko, cheese, garlic and egg to the bowl with the spinach. Season well with salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix gently but thoroughly. For each meatball, scoop up 2 Tbs. of the mixture, form into a meatball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce: In a saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, thyme and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 seconds. Add the wine and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer half of the sauce to a blender in 2 batches. Puree the sauce and return it to the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle the sauce into shallow bowls and top with 3 or 4 meatballs. Garnish with the basil and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Healthy Dish of the Day, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2014).

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