I've never really been a fan of meatballs (cue Gasp). I always thought they were heavy and kind of tasteless and that the sauce did all the flavor work for them. Also, the vehicle of delivery for meatballs is generally spaghetti, and the whole spaghetti and meatball combination has very little going for it nutrition-wise. Imagine my surprise then, when I had an instantaneous craving for them after seeing people eating spaghetti and meatballs on TV! (These unfortunate cravings also occur when I see people eating cupcakes, any kind of dessert, Chinese food, and thankfully, salad)
I couldn't just go off and make the aforementioned heavy (read: beef), flavor- and nutrient-lacking meatballs. So I switched it up and made chicken meatballs to cut the saturated fat, and added a load of kale to add fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and the unending list of other benefits kale has to offer.
This recipe is really great for picky kids since the kale is essentially hidden as it cooks down, and then further gets hidden by the sauce. It's also a quick dish to make, since it's semi-homemade- just dump your favorite healthy marinara sauce on top and pile the meatballs on good Whole Wheat Angel Hair pasta (Whole wheat Angel Hair is softer than Whole wheat spaghetti so it tastes less gritty for those of you who don't like the chew of whole grain pasta). Serve with sauteed veggies or a side salad and you've got yourself a delicious and healthy meal!
Makes 4 servings
1 lb ground chicken or lean turkey
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried rosemary (optional)- Any other Italian herb/spice will also do
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp ketchup
1 cup finely chopped kale
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (make sure the ingredients don't contain High Fructose Corn Syrup)
Your favorite pasta, cooked according to package instructions
Combine all the ingredients except the tomato sauce and pasta in a medium bowl. Mash everything together so you have the herbs and kale distributed as evenly as possible throughout the chicken.
Divide the mixture up so that you get 20-22 portions, and form these portions into balls. Heat up a heavy skillet with enough olive oil to just coat the pan. When the oil is hot, add all the meatballs in if they fit. If not, you can cook them in 2 skillets or two separate batches. Cook meatballs for about 3 minutes or until browned on that side, and then turn them over (they may flatten out a little but that's okay). Brown them on the other side for about 3-4 minutes. (Browning draws a lot of the flavor out, so don't skip this step). At this point, I just shake the pan a little and the meatballs just settle where they need to.
|The browned meatballs|
Add enough sauce to cover the meatballs (since I had all my meatballs in one skillet, I used pretty much the whole jar of sauce). Take a wooden spoon and scrape off the browned bits from the pan. The acid from the sauce will help loosen these tasty bits! Cover the pan and allow the meatballs to simmer in the sauce for about 15 min. After the 15 min, cut one open to make sure it's fully cooked. It should be. Scoop the meatballs and sauce onto your favorite pasta and enjoy!