Recipes

Springtime Chicken Meatballs with Garlic Yogurt & Chimichurri sauce

Today’s recipe is all about a vibrant Chimichurri sauce and creamy garlic yogurt that perfectly complement these flavored meatballs. You can serve this as an appetizer for Easter or as a light dinner. Trust me you are going to love this recipe!

I love making meatballs, it always brings me back to being a little girl, watching my mom and grandma, Meme in the kitchen. I loved helping roll the meatballs and watching them sizzle when they were added to the pan with hot olive oil.

First, you want to make the yogurt sauce and the Chimichurri sauce. The longer these two sauces have to marinate the better.

The garlic yogurt sauce is super easy. In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, garlic and some salt and pepper. That’s it! 

For the Chimichurri sauce, you are going to want to use your food processor, no worries if you don’t have one, a blender will get the job done too. If you do not have either of those, a sharp knife and some muscle will work too.

To the food processor or blender, add the cilantro, basil, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and a pinch of salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper. Pulse until combined but still slightly chunky, adding more olive oil as needed to loosen. 

I absolutely love this sauce, I have a small jar of it in the refrigerator at all times. It compliments just about anything from these meatballs to an omelette or as a dip with some chips.  

Now for the meatballs!

Chop ½ of a yellow onion,4 cloves of garlic and one cup baby spinach. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and slowly add the onion and cook until translucent and just starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the spinach, garlic and some salt, cook until the spinach is wilted. Next sprinkle in the fennel seeds and cook for another minute, then transfer to a large bowl. Add the chicken, breadcrumbs, basil, cayenne, onion powder, dried parsley, paprika, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and some black pepper and mix with a rubber spatula. Make well in the middle of the chicken mixture and crack one egg into the middle of the well. Here’s the fun part, using your hands mix the egg and chicken mixture until well combined. Using your hands, roll into golf ball-sized balls. 

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

In the same skillet, heat up a ½ inch of olive oil. Add the meatballs to the hot olive oil but make sure not to overcrowd the skillet, and brown the meatballs on each side about 6 to 10 minutes total. The meatballs should be a nice golden brown. Remember you are not cooking them all the way through, we will finish them off in the oven. 

Place the skillet into the oven and bake for 6 minutes, take the skillet out of the oven and slowly pour ¼ cup white wine into the skillet. Place back into the oven and continue cooking, 5 to 7 minutes.  

You can serve these meatballs as an appetizer or the main dish with a side of jasmine rice or even on a salad with Garlic Yogurt Sauce and Chimichurri.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cooking meatballs
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped 
  • 1 cup baby spinach, chopped 
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds 
  • 1 pound ground chicken 
  • 1/2 cup Italian Panko breadcrumbs 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 
  • 1 large egg
  •  ¼ cup white wine

Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chimichurri:

  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed 
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper  
  • Crushed red pepper

DIRECTIONS 

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the onion and cook until translucent and just starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the spinach, garlic and some salt and cook until the spinach is wilted. Add the fennel seeds and cook for another minute, then transfer to a large bowl. Add the chicken, breadcrumbs, basil, cayenne, onion powder, dried parsley, paprika, thyme, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and some black pepper and mix. Roll into golf ball-sized balls.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with about 1/2 inch of oil. Brown the meatballs on all sides in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the skillet, 6 to 10 minutes total. 

Place the meatballs in the oven, and set a timer for 6 minutes, take the pan out of the oven and slowly pour ¼ cup white wine into the pan.

Place back into the oven and continue cooking, 5 to 7 minutes. 

Serve with Yogurt Sauce and Chimichurri.

Yogurt Sauce

Add the yogurt, garlic and some salt and pepper to a small bowl. Mix to combine.

Chimichurri

To the food processor or blender , add the cilantro, basil, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and some salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper. Pulse until combined but still slightly chunky, adding more olive oil as needed to loosen. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Recipes

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite Italian comfort foods.
The one thing to keep in mind when cooking eggplant, is eggplants hold onto moisture, like a sponge. So if you’re not careful you can end up with a mushy mess.

So the best method to make eggplant parmesan is to pull the moisture out of the eggplant prior to frying it.

How do we pull moisture out of the eggplant?

You sprinkle salt on the eggplant slice and let them sit for 45 minutes to one hour.The salt pulls out the moisture from the eggplant. 

It also helps to cut the bitterness of the vegetable and makes it “sweat”. You will notice little drops of moisture on the surface of the disks. Removing the moisture from the eggplant will prevent it from releasing it during cooking. 

After the 45 minutes, all you have to do is just pat them dry and dust off the excess salt and then you’ll be ready to start making your eggplant parmesan! I guarantee you will have a much crispier and less soggy eggplant parmesan dish! 

Now of course, you can bake or roast the eggplant for eggplant Parmesan, and they are tasty but frying the eggplant gives the dish a deep caramelized flavor that can not be mimicked by baking. 

I like my eggplant a tad thick so I slice mine about ¼ thick, using a sharp knife. Grab two shallow dishes, crack two eggs in one dish and whisk. I like to add some seasoning, like granulated garlic and black pepper, to my whisked eggs but that is totally up to you. Pour 1 ½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs in the other dish. I love cheese and feel you can never have too much so I sprinkle ¼ cup of grated Parmesan into the breadcrumbs and whisk until combined. 

Take each slice, dip it into the egg mixture, roll in the bread crumbs and shake off any excess. Place the breaded eggplant slices on a plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated. 

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. I always use my cast iron skillet but any skillet will work. I have become a big fan of cast iron in the last year. Check out my Tips & Tricks page for why. 

Once the skillet is hot, slowly slide two-three breaded eggplant slices into the oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, they should be a nice golden brown. The first batch will take longer than the rest as the oil heats up. You will want to keep a close eye on them and watch out for oil splatters. 

Line a large sheet pan with foil, this will make for an easy clean up. Add a layer of eggplant slices then dollop 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn’t to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. The more cheese the better, in my opinion. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. I use the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown – you don’t have to, but if you do, watch it carefully!

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh basil. It reminds me of my grandparents’ backyard when I was a child. My grandfather, Papa, always had a basil plant in his backyard. Here’s a great tip for cutting basil. Stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll up like a cigar. Then make thin slices from one end of the basil cigar to the other. Sprinkle on top of your eggplant parmesan and serve. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil, for lightly pan-frying
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 cups whole milk mozzarella shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves sliced, for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Salt both sides of your eggplant slices and place them in a large colander in the sink. Let the liquid drain for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

When your eggplant slices have finished draining liquid, brush off the excess salt.

In 2 shallow plates, add breadcrumbs to one and whisk eggs and in the other. Dip both sides of the eggplant slice into egg mixture then cover with breadcrumbs, shaking off the excess. Place on a plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. Once the skillet is hot, add two-three eggplant slices at a time to the skillet and cook on both sides until golden brown, remove and set on a large plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until you’ve pan-fried them all.

On a large sheet pan, add a layer of eggplant slices then using dollop 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn’t to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. I use the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown. 

Serve hot and top with sliced basil.