Chicken Meatballs with Roasted Peppers and Spinach

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These easy chicken meatballs dressed in roasted red peppers and green capers almost resemble holiday ornaments, making this dish perfect for a weeknight holiday dinner party. Salty bits of pancetta dress up the ground chicken and the baked meatballs make the meal lighter than the average holiday fare. I served the meatballs and peppers over a bed of spinach sauteed in garlic and olive oil. You could certainly do a starchy side – pasta, rice or polenta.

If you’re looking for a perfect festive casual dinner by the fire, this is your fix. Merry Merry!

Chicken Meatballs with Roasted Peppers and Spinach

For peperonata:

  • 3 red bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

For meatballs:

  • 3 slices Italian bread, torn into pieces (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 ounces sliced pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  1. Make peperonata:
    1. Preheat oven to 400°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.
    2. Toss bell peppers with 1 tablespoon oil, then roast in a 4-sided sheet pan in lower third of oven, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 35 minutes.
    3. Stir together capers, vinegar, red pepper flakes, and remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Make meatballs while peppers roast:
    1. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about 4 minutes.
    2. Cook pancetta, onion, and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly.
    3. Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, pancetta mixture, bread, and parsley. Form 12 meatballs and arrange in another 4-sided sheet pan.
    4. Stir together tomato paste and remaining tablespoon oil and brush over meatballs, then bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
    5. Toss bell peppers with caper mixture. Serve meatballs with peperonata.

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