A lighter version of classic meatballs, these are flavored with pine nuts, raisins, and arugula. Try this over angel hair pasta sprinkled with chopped fresh arugula, or pass the meatballs as a hot hors d’ oeuvre. Leftover meatballs are delicious as a filling for a hoagie-style sandwich: spread crusty Italian bread with warm Zesty Tomato Sauce, tomato chutney, or Foster’s Pesto add the meatballs, then top with fresh arugula if desired.
Serves 6 to 8
2 pounds ground chicken (use all white meat or a mixture of white and dark meat, which will result in a slightly moister, more richly flavored meatball)
2 cups fresh, unseasoned bread crumbs
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 yellow onion, grated
1 rib celery, grated (discard fibrous parts)
3 garlic cloves, minced
⅓ cup golden raisins, chopped
One 2-ounce jar (¼ cup) pine nuts, chopped
⅓ cup Foster’s Arugula Pesto or ⅓ cup Foster’s Pesto
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1 bunch of arugula, washed, drained, stems removed, and chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup dry white wine
½ pound capellini, cooked al dente
1. Combine the chicken, ½ cup of the bread crumbs, ½ cup of the Parmesan, onion, celery, garlic, raisins, pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of the pesto, salt, pepper, and eggs in a large bowl and stir to mix. Add about 1 cup of the chopped arugula to the chicken mixture and stir to mix until all ingredients are well blended.
2. Shape the mixture into eighteen to twenty 2-inch round meatballs. Lightly roll each meatball in the remaining bread crumbs and chill 1 hour until ready to cook. (Note: Chilling keeps the meatballs from breaking apart when cooked.)
3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the meatballs in 2 small batches for about 2 minutes before rotating and turning to brown all over, 6 to 8 minutes total browning time. (It is important not to turn the meatballs too early, or they may fall apart. Let them form a golden brown, crusty exterior before turning.) Reduce heat and cook 4 to 6 minutes longer. Add 1 tablespoon additional oil if necessary. Remove the meatballs from the skillet and keep warm.
4. Add the wine to the skillet and deglaze, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom. Add the pasta, the remaining pesto, and the meatballs to the skillet and toss in the remaining arugula. Cool about 1 minute, just until the arugula wilts. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.