Hello there! How is it only Tuesday afternoon? I feel like this week has been dragging and dragging, which is odd, considering fall is one of the busiest times of year for me, work-wise! I manage a medical residency program, and fall is when we begin our interview season, where throngs of medical students come and interview over a two month period. It’s exciting, as pouring over the applications and subsequent interviews bring me right back to my recruiting days! Good times.
The upcoming weeks at work will be very busy and long, and I will be left with very little energy or desire to cook. Which of course leaves me completely vulnerable to unhealthy choices like lots of take out, or eating an entire tub of hummus and bag of pita at 8pm. Not like that’s ever happened or anything…
Because of this, meals that are freezer friendly are an absolute godsend to me this time of year. We already get lunch catered during interview season at work, so that means with all the temptation during the workday, I definitely need healthy, easy, no fuss meals when I get home. Good thing today’s recipe checks all of those boxes! These chicken parm meatballs are easy, require a little prep to make a big batch, and are easily frozen in freezer bags. On a busy weeknight, pop the frozen meatballs into the fridge in the morning, and then heat them through in a 350 degree oven or in a pot with some sauce, boil up some pasta or spiralized veggie and you’ve got an easy, healthy dinner on your table with next to no effort.
I got this idea from Jenny over on Dinner: A Love Story, via Pinterest. Probably like many of you, I often will scroll through recipes on Pinterest whenever I have a few moments (waiting at the doctor’s office, a coffee shop, etc.), but rarely do I actually go back and make those recipes I pin. Well, I was trying to find a freezer friendly meal, and came across this pin, and the actual recipe was full of stuff I usually have, so I gave it a whirl! Delicious – made even better with homemade marinara, but if you use Newman’s Own Sockarooni, who will know? That’s my favorite store bought pasta sauce – zesty, full of veggies, and nice and low in both sodium and sugar — two things always overused in shelf stable sauces, in my opinion, anyway!
This recipe makes about 35 small/medium meatballs, as I used a heaping tablespoon (seriously. make sure it’s heaping.) for my measurement. Feel free to scale up or down to your preference, but the cooking may vary accordingly. These are light and full of fresh, vibrant Italian flavor. Comfort food without the guilt!
chicken parmesan meatballs
from Dinner: A Love Story.
2 pounds organic ground chicken breast
scant 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I like to use ezekiel whole wheat bread to make mine)
1/4 cup sweet onion, diced
1 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated
3 gloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons dried fennel seed
2 eggs, whisked
zest of one small lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup marinara sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
marinara or pasta sauce, for serving
grated fresh parmesan cheese, for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, making sure rack is situated in the upper 1/3 of the oven. Using a large bowl, gently mix together the chicken breast, bread crumbs, onion, cheese, garlic, fennel, eggs, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Be careful not to over mix.
Using a tablespoon measuring spoon or melon baller, scoop a heaping tablespoon and shape into a ball about the size of a ping pong ball, but no large than a golf ball. Arrange these on a foil lined baking sheet, with a few inches between each one.
In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil and marinara sauce. Brush this on top each meatball. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through completely.
If serving immediately, cook up pasta or veggies and heat sauce. Spoon sauce over meatballs, and top with grated parmesan cheese.
If freezing, let cool completely and then freeze on baking sheet (this will prevent them from freezing together). Transfer to freezer bags, freeze in portion sizes if desired. Use within three months.
Serves 6-8 (about 4 to 6 meatballs per person).
**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible**