Chicken and Spinach Meatballs

chicken spinach meatballs
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins

Flavored with cinnamon and lemon, these meatballs are reminiscent of the Mediterranean. They are served in a broth and are actually easier to eat over orzo than spaghetti. This recipe is adapted from Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009).


1slice rustic bread, crusts removed
2large garlic cloves
2ounces pepperoni slices
12ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1small onion, coarsely chopped
1/4teaspoon cinnamon
1/2teaspoon kosher salt
1/4teaspoon Coarsely ground black pepper
1ounce grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 egg
2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1cup dry white wine
1teaspoon sugar
1/4cup red wine vinegar
2cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2cups cooked orzo or spaghetti


  1. Place bread in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbs are formed. You should have about 1/2 cup. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Place garlic and pepperoni in food processor bowl. Pulse until finely chopped. Add chicken, spinach, onion, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Process until well mixed and all chicken is chopped. Add to breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in cheese, lemon rind and egg. Form into 12 (2-inch) meatballs. (Meatballs will be very soft.) Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours.
  4. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add wine; cook 5 minutes. Add sugar, vinegar and broth. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer 12 to 15 minutes, turning meatballs once, until meatballs are firm and register between 165F and 170F in the center with an instant–read thermometer.
  5. Serve meatballs and broth over cooked orzo.

Adapted from Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009). 

Nutritional Info *per serving

  • Glycemic Load 9
  • Calories 500
  • Fat 23g
  • Saturated Fat 7g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 11g
  • Cholesterol 125mg
  • Sodium 1070mg
  • Potassium 450mg
  • Carbohydrate 39g
  • Fiber 3g
  • Sugars 3g
  • Protein 32g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Vitamin A 90%
  • Vitamin C 10%
  • Calcium 15%
  • Iron 20%
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