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
- 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
- 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
- Make peperonata:
- Preheat oven to 400°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.
- 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.
- Stir together capers, vinegar, red pepper flakes, and remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Make meatballs while peppers roast:
- Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about 4 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Toss bell peppers with caper mixture. Serve meatballs with peperonata.