Sometimes great dishes take lots of time and effort. Not all great dishes do though. Today I want to share a dish that always impresses my guests and is easy to make. There is lots of room to play with this recipe to make it work for you. Let’s dive in.
I have always been a huge fan of meatballs but everyone knows beef meatballs. They are delicious, they are comforting, they always have people coming back for more but the sad truth is that they have been done too many times. No one will be impressed by your beef meatballs, even if they are the best beef meatballs in the world. Instead, to impress your guest(s) you need to pull out something a little bit different without a huge fuss. This is where my baked chicken and ricotta meatballs can come in to play.
If you are getting ready for a date or just to entertain friends you likely don’t want to spend the whole evening preparing something in the kitchen, you have enough to worry about. This dish will take less than an hour including prep and cooking time and leaves very little cleanup.
You will need:
- Broccoli or broccolini – 2 heads
- 1 lemon
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- red pepper flakes
- 1 egg
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup ricotta, drained and lightly salted
- 1/2 cup parsley leaves
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Grated Parmesan
From there simply place your broccoli on a baking tray and sprinkle olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili flakes over the top. Set to one side while you prepare your meatballs. Place all the other ingredients in a mixing tray and start to mix lightly. Don’t mix too strongly or you will mush it. It should be mixed, not mushed.
Then wet your hands so that you can grab some of the mixture and roll it into small balls. The balls should be about half the size of a standard head of garlic to allow them to cook completely. The most important thing is that all your balls are the same as size. As long as you do this you can just adjust your cooking time for bigger balls. Don’t worry too much about how round they are, if you work too hard on packing them into a tight sphere you will again risk mushing them. Better leave them a little abstract yet with better consistency.
Place your meatballs between the broccoli or broccolini from earlier. Pop in an oven for around 20 minutes. Make sure to give the tray an occasional shake to avoid the balls sticking to the tray or paper and turn the tray 180 degrees halfway through to cook everything evenly. Then simply remove the broccoli and meatball and plate it up. This dish loves when you grate some parmesan on top but it is not essential.
That was so easy, yet it gets even better. There is so much room to play with this dish that you can really let it work for you and your guests depending on tastes and appetite. Broccolini is a really classy option but it can be hard to find, broccoli is just as good. If you don’t have parsley feel free to use basil. The garlic is just a subtle note in this dish but if you love garlic increase it to four cloves and really enjoy it. If you don’t like spicy feel free to go without the pepper flakes. The dish can be varied to match your needs.
The best part is that while it is in the oven you can set the table, clean the dishes and even have a drink as you wait for your guests to arrive. Easy!