I promised you a great recipe earlier in the week, and trust me, this one does not disappoint. This meal is absolutely delicious! My friend Katie sent me the recipe, telling me how much her whole family loved it, and I knew I had to try it. I don’t think Katie has ever steered me wrong on a recipe, and she certainly didn’t on this one. Mike claims it’s one of the best meals I’ve ever made and gave it a 4.25 rating! Creamy pasta flavored with chicken broth, tomatoes and cheese served with tender and flavorful chicken meatballs….trust me, it’s good.

This meal is a little on the expensive side, and slightly time consuming to make. It also makes a lot of food, so I don’t know if I would make it again for just Mike and I (although it’s just as good reheated, so we’ve enjoyed eating it for days). It’s definitely company worthy, and I think you could do a lot of it in advance to make it pretty stress free. With all the different colors and textures it has a beautiful presentation, and this is one of those dishes that will cause your guests to be impressed with your cooking skills! What I’m really tring to say is that if you’re invited to our house for dinner in the near future, you can expect this dish on the menu. :)

*Notes: It was cheaper to buy the parmesan/romano cheese blend, so I used that in both the meatballs and the pasta. I also ran out of cherry tomatoes after about 2 cups, so I used roma tomatoes for the remaining 2 cups. And finally, I couldn’t find Orecchiette in the grocery store so I just used small shells instead, which worked great.

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Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs

Ingredients:

1 pound orecchiette pasta
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon ketchup
3/4 cup grated Romano
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, hot
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions:

In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, Romano cheese, and the salt and pepper. Add the chicken and gently stir to combine.

Using a melon baller (or a teaspoon measure), form the chicken mixture into 3/4-inch pieces. With damp hands, roll the chicken pieces into mini meatballs.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

In a large (14-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook without moving until brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, about 2 minutes longer. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes are soft and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and add the Parmesan. Toss to lightly coat orecchiette, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Add the meatball mixture, mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup of the basil. Gently toss to combine. Garnish with the chopped basil.

adapted, slightly, from Giada De Laurentiis