This recipe is great for picky eaters, because you get to hide the vegetables! This look-a-like dinner is fresher and more flavorful- so even mom and dad will enjoy it. If you had the canned variety of this dish as a kid, this will bring back nostalgic memories.
By using ground chicken for our meatballs, we'll make this recipe healthier. Ground chicken has fewer calories and less fat than ground beef, but still has lots of protein. The taste will be different, but still just as great as if you'd used beef.
Make sure to keep children away from the hot oil. You'll need a large Dutch oven for this recipe. Follow the instructions along exactly as they're written, and soon you'll have a wonderful dinner that anyone of any age can enjoy.
This recipe can also work as a meal prep for weekday lunches. Pack some in your children's lunches, provided they have a microwave at their school's cafeteria they can use. Most school cafeterias will have a microwave of some kind. Now, on to the recipe!
Pasta-Os with Meatballs
6 ounces ground chicken
3 tablespoons pesto
3 tablespoons plain dried breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped coarse
1 carrot, peeled and chopped medium
1 small celery rib, chopped coarse
3 garlic cloves, minced
2½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 ounces ditalini pasta (about 1 cup)
1. Combine the chicken, pesto, breadcrumbs, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and pinch pepper in a bowl and mix with your hands until uniform. Use a heaping teaspoon to gently form the mixture into ¾-inch round meatballs (about 28 meatballs), place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until needed.
2. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth and tomatoes with their juice, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the carrot is softened, about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Transfer the soup to a blender and process until very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Return the pureed soup to a clean pot, cover, and return to a simmer over medium heat.
4. Stir in the pasta and reserved meatballs and continue to simmer until the pasta and meatballs are cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Serving size: 1½ cups