Chicken-Zucchini Meatballs with Roasted Tomatoes
Cookbook author Lisa Samuel takes flavorful ground chicken thighs and combines them with shredded zucchini, fresh herbs, and aromatic spices to make a moist and tender gluten-free meatball. You will be surprised at how well they hold together without egg or breadcrumbs - neither is needed. "These meatballs have become one of my signature dishes," Lisa says. "They are so easy to prepare ahead of time, I often make them for large dinners."
Room at the Table: Gluten-Free Recipes, Stories and Tips to Share With the People You Love is available on www.lisasamuel.com.
1 large zucchini
2 pounds ground chicken thighs
2 to 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
2 to 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp My Spice Blend (recipe below)
¼ tsp Red Jalapeño Chili Flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Silk Chili Flakes
2 Tbsp Wild Mountain Cumin
2 Tbsp Red River Coriander
1 Tbsp Lucknow Fennel
1 tsp Cloud Forest Cardamom Seeds
My Spice Blend (makes about 1/4 cup)
Preheat the oven to 425° F.
Grate the zucchini on the largest holes of a box grater into a large bowl. Add the chicken, parsley, cilantro, salt, spice blend, and pepper flakes. Use your hands to evenly combine. The mixture will be a little wet, but don't worry-it will hold together. Shape the meatball mixture into 16 to 20 golf ball-sized meatballs.
Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Pour in about 2 tablespoons oil. Place the meatballs in a single layer in the skillet, being sure not to crowd them too much. If they won't all fit in the pan, cook them in batches.
Cook the meatballs until browned on the bottom, 3 or 4 minutes. This will sear the meatballs, so they'll be easy to turn. Turn and cook on the other side, another 3 to 4 minutes. If you need to cook the meatballs in batches, remove all the meatballs from the pan and place them in a bowl. Repeat with remaining meatball mixture. Add all of the meatballs back to the pan with any accumulated juices. (At this point, it's okay if they are crowded.)
Pour the stock over the meatballs and scrape up any caramelized bits that have stuck to the pan, being careful not to break the meatballs apart. Scatter the tomatoes over the top. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through, the sauce has reduced a little bit, and the tomatoes have started to collapse. Garnish with more parsley and a little Silk Chili Flakes.
My Spice Blend
Combine all the spices in a dry skillet set over low heat. Slowly toast the spices, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, until they become fragrant. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
Put the spices in a mortar and crush with a pestle until finely ground. Alternatively, grind the spices in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder. Pour the spice blend into a glass jar, cover tightly, and store at room temperature. Toasted spices are best used within a week or so.
Substitutions: If you can't find ground chicken thighs, you can substitute ground chicken breast with good results. I have made these with ground turkey, but I don't think the flavor is quite as good.
Make Ahead: You can make the meatball mixture up to 24 hours in advance. Store it, tightly covered, in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook.