Pesto Spaghetti with Chicken Meatballs
Pesto Spaghetti with Chicken Meatballs dish is amazingly delicious and perfect for a special dinner. These mozzarella loaded baked chicken meatballs are good any way you serve them; on top of pasta, noodles, with rice or by themselves! But, paired with a spaghetti pesto and more pesto, they make for a lovable feast.
You can easily swap out the chicken for beef or turkey if you prefer that better than chicken. I tried it with ground turkey once, and you can hardly tell the difference. One pound of ground chicken will make about 20 meatballs.
I like to make my own pesto sauce. Especially that every year we plant basil and every year the plant does so well that we can’t use it up fast enough. So I make pesto sauce in bulk during the summer and I freeze left overs for future use. But market bought pesto also works just fine for this recipe.
- For Pesto:
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tbs salt- or to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- For Chicken Meatballs:
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 small onion- minced
- 2 garlic cloves-crushed
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/3 cup fresh basil
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp all spice
- 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
- Other ingredients:
- 1 lb spaghetti, cooked
- Mozzarella cheese- cut into small cubes
To make the pesto sauce:
- In your food processor, pulse basil, garlic, salt pine nuts and Parmesan.
- Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula and pulse couple more times.
- With the processor running, add olive oil in a steady slow stream until emulsified. Adding the olive oil slowly, while the processor is running, will help keep the olive oil from separating.
- Set pesto sauce aside.
To make chicken meatballs:
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Spray a baking tray with baking spray.
- In your food processor, process the onion, garlic and basil very well.
- Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the egg, spices, salt, bread crumbs, and ground chicken and use your hands to combine the mixture very well.
- With lightly oiled hands (this prevents the chicken from sticking to your hands), heap 1 tbsp of chicken mix and add a cube of mozzarella cheese to the center. Shape into a ball, making sure the cheese cube is fully covered.
- Arrange meatballs on the prepared baking tray.
- Brush meatballs with olive oil.
- Bake for 15 min on center rack.
- Turn heat up to 500°F and bake for another 5 minutes.
Mix the pesto sauce with spaghetti and add meatballs on top.
- When making pesto sauce, you can sub half the basil leaves with baby spinach, parsley, arugula or cilantro. )
- Parmesan can be replaced with pecorino, romano, or Grana Padano cheese.
- Pine nuts can be replaced with walnuts, pistachios, or cashews.
If you are looking for more Italian dishes, here are some of my favorites!