Every week my husband requests two things for dinner – pesto + meatloaf (recipe coming soon). I got sick of making the same thing every week so I played around with the idea of a pesto chicken meatball. To say it quickly became a household favorite would be an understatement. Since we both love these so much I usually double the recipe and freeze them or even just have them for lunches during the week. Trust me when I say they’re even better day two!
Now, I’ll be honest. I never liked the idea of a chicken meatball, I’m somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to Italian food but I knew I wouldn’t like the idea of pesto with ground beef either. So, I got over my fear of ground chicken (seriously, it freaks me out) and gave these a shot. The pesto combines with the meat so well that you kinda forget you’re eating chicken!
Do you really have to make homemade pesto?! Honestly, no. If you’re pressed for time, store bought will work just fine. But I will tell you to get out of your comfort zone and try it! I always do since I’ve yet to find a good lactose free option in the stores. When I started making it regularly I realized just how easy it really is. If you can run a food processor, then you can make pesto. I’ve even made it in my blender before! Sometimes I’ll switch it up and add in an avocado (makes it super creamy!) or some red pepper flakes (we love a good kick). That’s kinda the nice part of making it yourself, you can decide what you want to add (or take out).
|PREP TIME||COOK TIME||TOTAL TIME|
|15 min||20 min||35 min|
- 3/4 cup store bought or homemade pesto, recipe below [go big or go home people, I promise it’s easy!]
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 1 egg
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup shallots, diced [aka 3-4 shallots – yes, you could also use white onion]
Homemade Pesto: Combine the following ingredients in your food processor/blender. Depending on the size of your food processor you may need to work in batches. If working in batches make sure to add some of the oil to each batch. This makes about 3/4 cup. Use half for the meatballs and extra for the pasta/zoodles!
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves [remove the stems]
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 drop of Young Living Lemon Vitality Essential Oil [or the juice of 1/2 lemon]
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese [here’s my favorite lactose free brand]
- 2 tbsp pine nuts or walnuts
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- OPTIONAL: 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with olive oil or cooking spray.
- If making homemade pesto, combine the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth, add extra olive oil if needed.
- Combine 1/2 of the pesto, ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs and shallots. Using your hands, mix until combined.
- Roll into 1 3/4 inch balls and place onto the baking sheet (if you don’t have cookie scoops I HIGHLY recommend this set. The medium one is perfect for these!)
- Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Use the remaining pesto on cooked pasta or zoodles (our favorite!). Remove meatballs from the oven and serve over the pasta/zoodles! Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!