Baked Chicken and Ricotta Meatballs

January 16, 2020 Updated: January 16, 2020

I like my broccoli charred and crispy, so that’s where this recipe takes you. It is important to make the meatballs uniform, round and slightly smaller than golf balls so that they cook evenly. Even if they’re not perfect, they will still taste delicious, and, as we all hopefully know, looks don’t really matter.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves 2, 4 for sharing (makes 20 meatballs)

  • 14 ounces broccolini, rough stems trimmed and thick pieces cut lengthwise
  • 1 organic lemon, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or more, if desired
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
  • 3/4 cup (6 1/2 ounces) ricotta, drained and lightly salted
  • 1/2 cup (1/2 ounce) parsley leaves and fine stems, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup (1 ounce) panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound ground chicken, preferably dark meat
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Grated Parmesan, for sprinkling (optional)

Efficiency Moves: Prep the broccoli and lemon, then set up the ingredients for the meatballs.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F with a rack in the middle of the oven.

On a baking tray (sheet pan), toss the broccolini and lemon slices with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Spread evenly on the baking tray and set aside while you make the meatballs.

Beat the egg in a mixing bowl, then add garlic and ricotta with 1 teaspoon of salt, parsley, pepper, the rest of the oil, breadcrumbs, and meat, and use your hands to gently combine it (too much mushing will make them tough and dry). You should still see pieces of the meat through the seasonings. Lightly wet your hands with water or oil and roll the meat into 20 loose—not tightly packed—rounds, slightly smaller than golf balls, using a gentle rolling motion between your hands (the water is important otherwise they will stick to your hands). Set on large pieces of baking parchment on the counter to make for an easier clean up.

Nestle the meatballs in between the broccolini and lemon. Bake until the meatballs are browned and cooked through and the broccolini is crispy, about 15–20 minutes, shaking the baking tray to move the meatballs and turning the tray around halfway to ensure even cooking. Use this time to clean up and set the table. Have a glass of wine if this stressed you out in any way at all.

Remove from the oven, squeeze lemon juice on top, divide between plates, making sure to eat the lemon rinds too, and finish with grated Parmesan, if using.

Note: Panko aka Japanese breadcrumbs have an airier texture than other breadcrumbs.

Leftover Notes: Throw any leftover meatballs in a broth with greens at the end for a quick soup.

Recipe excerpted with permission from “Keeping It Simple by Yasmin Fahr, published by Hardie Grant Books.