18 November 2012

Chicken, Spinach and Parmigiano Reggiano Balls With Sautéed Tomatoes


A day with two very active kids is already strenuous but that doesn't compare to having one meal with them.  If I am preparing a dish that's a little bit out of the ordinary, or has one of the many ingredients, a hint of a flavor or even color that both kids don't like, expect a rollercoaster ride through dinner. 


My 7-year old son has a very straightforward classic Italian palate.  The kind that's surprisingly too mature for his age.  He eats almost everything now (we went through hard years too) but when he sees anything white or anything artificially colored like blue, in his plate, he freaks out.  He loves his chicken cooked with Marsala wine, his salad dressed with white balsamic vinegar, broccoli, beans, lentils, spaghetti con la bottarga (grey mullet roe), spaghetti con le vongole (clams) and McDonald's chicken nuggets packed in a Happy Meal box.  How do I compete with that?  

My 2-year old (almost 3) daughter on the other hand, copies everything that her big brother does and to my dismay, also his love for chicken nuggets.  Aside from chicken nuggets, she eats a LOT of bread, white rice and white pasta dressed with extra virgin olive oil and mixed with parmigiano reggiano.  If her brother doesn't like white and blue in his food, she doesn't like green and sometimes brown in hers.  Go figure.  She lacks the proper nutrients in her diet which worries us a great deal.  


I had some frozen spinach in the freezer and some fresh chicken.  I was very hopeful that both kids would give these chicken balls a chance.  If they don't like the tomatoes I prepared, I thought ketchup should do the trick.  They just came out too green but when covered with breadcrumbs, fried and smothered with ketchup, they became almost unnoticeable. 

Our meal was miraculously quiet for once with just an occasional request for more ketchup or water.  They both ate an impressive amount.  After the meal, my husband turned to me and asked me to please write down the recipe immediately before I forget it because those chicken balls should go back to our table very soon again.  A nice, quiet family dinner without any complaints from both camps is unheard of in our house.  

If you have little ones like mine, give this a try.  Chicken and spinach have mild flavors so adding the parmigiano reggiano, which both kids love, gave it a big boost in taste.  I wanted to cook them in the oven at the beginning but I thought frying them in extra virgin olive oil can give more taste because that is what I am after.  I will cook some in the oven next time to check the difference.  



Chicken, Spinach and Parmigiano Reggiano Balls With Sautéed Tomatoes

Ingredients:
Makes around 40 balls
  • 500 g. ground chicken (I used white meat.)
  • 50 g. parmigiano reggiano, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 150 g. spinach, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw first then squeeze to send away excess water), chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs (put up the amount if the balls don't hold the shape) + more for coating the balls
  • salt
  • pepper 
  • extra virgin olive oil (or another kind of oil frying) 
  • 150 g. cherry tomatoes, chopped 
  • fresh basil leaves (optional, if serving with tomatoes) 
  • 150 g. spinach, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw first then squeeze to send away excess water), chopped finely
Directions:
  1. In a bowl, mix the ground chicken, parmigiano reggiano, spinach, egg, 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, salt & pepper.  Mix well until it's compact.
  2. Make little balls with the mixture then coat them with then breadcrumbs.  Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, over medium heat, sautè the tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil for about 10 minutes.  Season with salt & pepper.  Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves at the end of cooking then set aside.
  4. In a big shallow saucepan, over medium - high heat, fry the chicken balls until all sides are golden brown. You can also deep fry them in a saucepan with a lot of oil (peanut or sunflower, etc.)
  5. When they are cooked, transfer them to a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
  6. Serve the chicken balls together with the tomatoes.



8 comments:

  1. If your kids were happy, then I know these meat balls are good! :) I love the spinach addition and serving them with sauteed tomatoes is a perfect idea!

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    1. I thought the sauteed tomatoes were perfect too even if the kids preferred ketchup. :-)

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  2. These look simply divine! They are so simple and yet I can imagine that they are full of flavor. Need to make these soon. Pinning now. Hope you are doing well!!! :-)

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    1. Hi Lisa! I was actually surprised that they came out tasty considering the main ingredients are chicken and spinach. The parmigiano made a big difference. Thanks for dropping by.

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  3. My 2-year old daughter has an aversion to chicken (I think it's a texture thing) but these delicious little bites might just change her mind. Can't wait to give these a try!

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    1. I hope she likes it! Kids and food are really hard to match together. :-)

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  4. Happy kids, happy parents!!!
    These do look scrumptious, such a deluxe kiddie meal;-)

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    1. Thanks Patty! I am happy when the kids eat something healthier than McDonald's! LOL!

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