We adore meatballs in all forms, so why should they be limited to appetizers and sides? These baked chicken and ricotta meatballs, from Yasmin Fahr’s Keeping It Simple, are tender, quick-cooking and easy to make as a weeknight main.
“I like my broccoli charred and crispy,” Fahr writes, “so that’s where this recipe takes you. It is important to make the meatballs uniform, round and slightly smaller than golf balls so that they cook evenly. Even if they’re not perfect, they will still taste delicious and, as we all hopefully know, looks don’t really matter.”
If you end up with leftover meatballs, warm them in broth and toss in some greens at the end for a quick soup.
Excerpted with permission from Keeping It Simple by Yasmin Fahr, published by Hardie Grant Books, February 2020.
14 ounces (400g) broccolini, rough stems trimmed and thick pieces cut lengthwise
1 lemon, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more if desired
1 large egg
2 garlic cloves, grated
¾ cup ricotta cheese, drained and lightly salted
½ cup parsley leaves and fine stems, roughly chopped
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 pound ground chicken, preferably dark meat
Juice of 1 lemon
Grated Parmesan, for sprinkling (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. On a baking sheet, toss the broccoli and lemon slices with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt, pepper and the red pepper flakes. Spread evenly on the baking sheet and set aside while you make the meatballs.
3. Make the Meatballs: In a medium bowl, beat the egg, then add the garlic, ricotta, 1 teaspoon salt, parsley, pepper, the rest of the oil, breadcrumbs and meat, and use your hands to gently combine it (too much mushing will make them tough and dry). You should still see pieces of the meat through the seasonings. Lightly wet your hands with water or oil and roll the meat into twenty loose—not tightly packed—rounds, slightly smaller than golf balls, using a gentle rolling motion between your hands (the water will keep them from sticking to your hands). Set on large pieces of baking parchment on the counter to make for an easier clean up.
4. Nestle the meatballs on the baking sheet in between the broccoli and lemon. Bake until the meatballs are browned and cooked through and the broccoli is crispy, 15 to 20 minutes, shaking the baking sheet to move the meatballs and turning the tray around halfway to ensure even cooking.
5. Remove from the oven, squeeze the lemon juice on top and divide between plates. Finish with grated Parmesan, if using.