Nothing says warm weather to me like the light, bright, citrusy flavor of lemon. And who doesn’t love meatballs? A few weeks ago, as the weather started to warm up, I was in the mood for some “comfort” food, but I wasn’t looking for traditional meatballs… I wanted something a little more “summery”…. Maybe something with those lemony hints and lots of fresh green herbs…. So then I decided to make a lighter meatball with ground chicken instead of beef, and a creamy sauce with just the right hint of citrus… The answer was what I now refer to as my Summer Meatballs and Lemon Fettuccine.
I’ve listed the ingredients separately because you can definitely serve just the pasta when you are in a hurry and want something very quick but also elegant (about 20 minutes start to finish!). You could also use the meatballs in your favorite standard red spaghetti sauce for a lighter version of spaghetti and meatballs. Or, make the meatballs, simmer them in the sauce for a few minutes, and serve as an appetizer.
So that the meatballs aren’t too dry, but still healthy, I mix one pound lean ground chicken breast with one pound regular ground chicken (you could also use ground turkey). This makes a lot of meatballs, so I cook all the meatballs, and then serve half and freeze the other half for next time.
- 1 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion
- 1/2 cup (firmly packed) finely chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup (firmly packed) finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
- 2 pounds ground chicken
- Cooking oil
In large bowl, mix together breadcrumbs, eggs, salt, and milk with fork. Add garlic, onion, basil, parsley and lemon zest and stir. Gently stir in chicken (you don’t want to overwork the mixture.)
Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Use about 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture to make meatball by gently forming a ball with your fingertips and place in pan. You can also form the meatball on a large spoon and gently push mixture off spoon into pan. (The mixture will be soft and can’t be rolled like a traditional meatball.)
Turn meatballs every few minutes so that they brown on all sides. Continue to cook until cooked all the way through (about 10 minutes.) Remove meatballs to bowl or plate and keep warm. Continue cooking meatballs in batches until all of the meatballs are done. Keep meatballs warm while preparing pasta. (Makes about 5-6 dozen small meatballs.)
- 1 pound package fettuccini
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (from about 1/2 lemon)
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley for serving
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese for serving
Prepare fettuccini al dente according to package directions.
While fettuccini is cooking, place cream and milk in skillet over medium heat. Wisk in lemon juice and lemon zest. Simmer over medium heat about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Drain pasta. Stir into sauce. Add meatballs and toss. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes until heated through.
Place pasta and meatballs on plates. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley.
Makes about 6 servings.
Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think! I love your comments 🙂