Served with roasted red pepper sauce, chicken meatballs are spiked with pesto and kept light with ricotta and spinach for a fresh and tasty dish.
I often turn to ground chicken and ground turkey as an alternative to beef. Don’t get me wrong – we love beef…steaks, burgers, lasagnas, meatloaf, etc. I think you get the picture. But sometimes, I just feel the need for variety – and the need to lighten things up.
Ground chicken (and turkey) can be somewhat bland on its own, so I like to add ingredients that really pump up the flavor. For these chicken meatballs, basil pesto is that amped up ingredient.
Chicken Pesto Meatballs
The pesto infuses tons of flavor, and the addition of ricotta keeps the meatballs tender and light. Chopped spinach adds more green color and flavor, and, well, I just like adding spinach to meatballs!
A delicious meatball needs an equally delicious sauce. These chicken meatballs are light so I didn’t want to weigh them down with a heavy sauce. This roasted red pepper sauce is the perfect complement.
I used jarred roasted red peppers but you can certainly roast the peppers yourself if you are so inclined. Blending the peppers with sauteed onions and chicken broth yields the most beautiful red-orange sauce. I added a touch of pesto – as a nod to the meatballs – and honey to round out the flavors. And salt and pepper to taste, of course.
I like serving this dish by ladling some sauce in the bottom of a shallow bowl and topping with the meatballs, a touch more sauce, and fresh basil. For a heartier meal, serve over pasta or with some crusty bread.
Such a pretty dish and so, so full of flavor. This recipe tastes light and fresh. Leftovers, if any, reheat beautifully. Grab a dish and enjoy!
If you try this recipe, please leave a comment or tag me on Instagram using #mycasualpantry.
Chicken meatballs infused with basil pesto and served with a roasted red pepper sauce. Fresh, light, and delicious!
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons ricotta cheese
- 1 heaping tablespoon basil pesto
- 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup lightly packed baby spinach leaves, chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil or similar
- 24 ounces jarred roasted red peppers, drained
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons honey, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon basil pesto
- fresh basil, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, ricotta, pesto, parmesan, spinach, and black pepper. Gently mix to incorporate. Using a small cookie scoop, portion the meatballs onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until fully cooked.
While the meatballs bake, prepare the sauce. In a medium saucepan, add the oil and onion and saute until translucent. Add the onion, roasted red peppers, and chicken broth to a blender. Puree until smooth.
Add salt and pepper and honey to taste. (The honey helps to balance the flavors.) Return mixture to saucepan and stir in pesto. Heat slowly. Serve with meatballs.
Using a small portion scoop, this recipe yields 24-30 meatballs.