Chicken Meatballs With Spinach-Walnut Pesto Recipe

Want to see how these meatballs are made, from the Meatball Shop man himself? Check out the Food Republic Google+ Hangout with Daniel Holzman of The Meatball Shop at noon Eastern time Tuesday, May 7.

These are the sleeper hit at The Meatball Shop and the star in our Chicken Parm Sliders. Guests are always surprised by the moistness and rich taste of these balls. The secret is the ground thigh meat, which provides a depth of flavor and tender texture. The chicken meatballs pair perfectly with our spinach-basil pesto as the sweetness from the basil and crunch of the walnuts offer a fresh, bright flavor.

Chicken Meatballs With Spinach-Walnut Pesto Recipe
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golf ball-sized meatballs
  • 2 pounds ground chicken thigh
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorn
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 cup walnut pieces
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 2 cups Fresh Basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Spread the walnuts on a baking dish and roast in the oven until golden brown and toasted, about 12 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool thoroughly
  3. Fill a large stock pot ¾ of the way full with water and bring to a rolling boil over a high heat
  4. Fill a large bowl with ice and water ½ way up and set close to the sink
  5. Dump the spinach and basil in the boiling water and give it a stir. After 1 minute, strain the greens, discarding the water and plunge the greens into the bowl with ice and water.
  6. Drain the greens and squeeze them so that they are good and dry, then chop the greens
  7. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend on high speed until an even “pesto like” consistency is reached. Season with extra salt as needed.
  8. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  9. Combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.
  10. Drizzle the olive oil into a large baking dish (10 x 17) making sure to evenly coat the entire surface — use your hand to help spread the oil.
  11. Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-sized meatballs making sure to pack the meat firmly. Chicken meatballs can be a pain to roll, a great trick is to use a #24 disher (ice cream scoop) rounded over and dropped into the pan.
  12. Place the balls into the oiled baking dish such that all of the meatballs are lined up evenly in rows and are touching each of their four neighbors in a grid.
  13. Roast until firm and cooked through, about 14 minutes.
  14. Allow the meatballs to cool for five minutes before removing from the tray and topping with pesto. 
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