April 13, 2021

Recipe: Chicken Meatballs with Fresh Tomato Sauce

A lighter sort of comfort food

A white bowl of meatballs in a red marinara sauce

When you think of comfort food, you might initially envision a steaming bowl of your favorite soup or chili.


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But anytime is a great time for comfort classics, especially when they’re light and fresh. Enter this delicious, family-friendly meal. Let’s start with the meatballs. Made of boneless, skinless chicken and baked instead of fried, these meatballs are hearty and heart-friendly. Now for the marinara, which is perfectly timed with tomato harvest season, and cooks in just 20 minutes.

Pair the meatballs and sauce with a big salad for a delicious and nutritious summer comfort dish.


For the marinara:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 pounds beefsteak tomatoes, diced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 large sprig basil

For the meatballs:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ of a yellow onion, chopped
1 large egg
½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


To make the marinara, in a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and the basil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Discard the basil.

To make the meatballs, first cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and put into the freezer to partially freeze.


In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Let cool.

Put the chicken, onion, egg, parsley, lemon zest, oregano, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse several times until the chicken is finely chopped but not smooth.

Heat the broiler to high. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls (you should get about 16) and place on the prepared pan. Broil 12 to 15 minutes, turning as necessary to prevent burning, until browned and cooked through.

Add the meatballs to the marinara and stir to coat. Serve hot.

Nutritional information:

Makes 4 servings


Per serving:

255 calories
11 g total fat
2 g saturated fat
25 g protein
15 g carbohydrate
2 g dietary fiber
6 g sugar
0 g added sugar
102 mg cholesterol
463 mg sodium

Source: Developed by Sara Quessenberry for Cleveland Clinic Wellness

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