Chicken Feta Meatballs with Pesto Zoodles

     It's January and it seems that everyone is back on the healthy eating train.  I'm always looking for new and interesting healthy recipes so that we aren't eating boring meals every night.  Baked meatballs (made with beef + pork) have been one of my go-to recipes in the past but I have never tried making chicken meatballs.  When I came across this recipe for chicken feta meatballs from How Sweet Eats, it sounded too good not to try!  I'm obsessed with feta and we eat it constantly on both our salads and vegetables for dinner.  I made a few tweaks to the recipe and added a few ingredients to make it my own, and I was shocked at how good they turned out and how easy the entire recipe was!  Check out the ingredients and instructions below to get started:  

for the meatballs:

1 lb. ground chicken

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 cups chopped spinach

1 egg

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup Feta cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

sprinkle of red pepper

 

for the zucchini noodles:

3-4 large zucchini

1/4 cup pine nuts

3-4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons of Pesto sauce 

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a stand mixer with paddle attachment (or a large bowl), combine all the meatball ingredients and mix until well combined.

2.  Cover a baking sheet or pan with parchment.  With your hands, roll your meatball mixture into golf ball sized meatballs.  

3.  Bake your meatballs at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, flipping after 10 minutes so that they can brown on both sides.

4.  While your meatballs are baking, begin to spiralize all your zucchini.  Place on a paper towel and let sit for 10-15 minutes, then pat dry thoroughly.

5.  Add the olive oil and butter to a skillet and begin to cook on low-medium heat.  After the butter has melted, add the garlic, pine nuts, pesto, and seasonings.  Stir until combined.

6.  Add the zucchini noodles and toss in the sauce to coat.  Cook the noodles for just a few minutes then remove from the heat.  

7.  Serve the noodles with meatballs on top and sprinkle with a bit of extra feta.  Enjoy!

      How yummy does that look?!  I was super nervous about this recipe at first because my husband told me chicken meatballs are bland and rubbery (....seriously).  I kept that in mind when picking my seasonings and ingredients, and I was determined for these meatballs to NOT be bland.  They are super flavorful and have great texture, a little crunch on the outside but juicy on the inside.  The feta also adds the perfect bit of brightness into the meatballs.   The garlic butter zucchini noodles are the perfect compliment especially with the addition of pine nuts for a bit of nutty flavor and a little crunch.  I think I've officially decided I like zucchini noodles far better than spaghetti squash, much easier and quicker to make AND they have much better texture and are less watery.  This is a perfect comfort meal to make when you are craving lots of carbs and pasta but want to keep it a little lighter.  Both parts of the dish can stand alone (the meatballs make a great snack or appetizer with some dipping sauce), but they are even better together!  

xoxo

Emily