Friday, January 28, 2011

Chicken Meatballs with Gnocchi

I saw this recipe on FoodTV with Rachael Ray several years ago. It has become a staple and one of our favorites at our house. I love that the meatballs use Chicken (or Turkey) but is full of flavor and not bland at all!

Are you wondering what Gnocchi is? I don't think I had ever had it or tasted it until this recipe. It's a small potato dumpling prevalent in Italian cooking. They are little dumplings of yumminess and cook up in about 2-3 min. You just dump them in your boiling water and when they float to the top they are done! I could find them in almost every grocery store in Arizona, but can only find them at Trader Joe's here in Oregon.

If you can't find it you can substitute with spaghetti, linguini, egg noodles or rigatoni. We've done it before and it worked great. Just make sure it's a pasta that can stand up to meatballs and a hearty sauce. Angel hair would not be a good idea. If you can find them (Trader Joe's ones are only $1.99) I would urge you to try Gnocchi - they ARE that yummy! The recipe I linked to below says gnocchi is in the refrigerated or freezer section. I have never found them there but rather in the regular pasta area and in a little pouch.

Today's Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds of ground chicken or turkey (I actually used 1 lb of turkey)
1 tablespoon grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup or 20 leaves fresh basil, julienned
2 tablespoons EVOO
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
1 pound gnocchi

First prep some ingredients: Mince your onion, mince your garlic, julienne your basil, chop your sun-dried tomatoes into little pieces

Take about 2 tablespoons of EVOO and saute the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes* together until it becomes nice and soft - about 5-6 min.

*If you have little children or are sensitive to spicy foods then either leave this out all together or just add 1 little shake. I probably only added 5 little flakes to give it just a tich of heat and it wasn't too spicy for my kids. The full 1/2 teaspoon would have burned their mouths.

Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and season with S&P. Once it starts boiling, turn down to a simmer. I like to let this cook down while making the meatballs and cooking the gnocchi. About 30 min.

At this point preheat your oven to 400 (while the sauce is simmering) and start your water boiling for your gnocchi.

Once you have the sauce going mix together the meatballs. Mix together the turkey, grill seasoning*, fennel seeds, sun-dried tomatoes and half the basil.

*Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick is one of the non Penzey's seasonings that I really love. It's nice and peppery and full of flavor. If you don't have this seasoning it's one you won't regret buying. We love to add it to our hamburgers for a nice full flavor and Jordan adds it to Rib-eye steaks that are the best!

Shape into little meatballs. If you have the little scooper from Pampered Chef that's what I used to make mine. They are the perfect little size to go with the Gnocchi and perfect for little kids.

I ended up with about 36 little meatballs. Cook them for 10-12 min. My oven is a little funky and it took about 15 min for mine to get browned. Seriously they are soooo juicy!

Your water should be boiling just about now. Dump the gnocchi in and in about 2-3 min. they'll start popping to the top.

Your sauce should be thickened quite a bit so it's a good time to add the rest of your basil.

At this point you can do 1 of 2 things. Add everything to the pot like I do or leave everything out separately so everyone can scoop their own. In the past I have had it separate and it seemed to get a little dried out so now I just combine everything into 1 big pot.

At this point the sauce is nice and thick, I've added the meatballs from the oven and mixed in the gnocchi. Mmmmmm....I wish you could smell it!

Seriously yum-o! A little side of salad and some crusty bread and you have a full dinner. Isabelle ate the Gnocchi and sauce (she's not much of a meat eater) and Matthew ate some of everything.

Since this is a recipe I can link to, you can find it here.


  1. Karin- I am loving this! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I want to come visit today so I can eat your nummy food. But for now, I'll have to settle with trying to make it myself. Delicious!

  3. Karin, I made this for my family last night. It was a hit! My kids are very picky eaters but they like meatballs so I thought I would try this recipe from your blog first. Very tasty! The kids ate their dinner, which they usually don't. We will definitely make this in the future. I couldn't find gnocchi in Price, Utah so we used rigatoni instead. Oh, and I messed up on the recipe and added the sundried tomatoes in the sauce. So, we had sundried tomatoes in the sauce and in the meatballs. But, we love sundried tomatoes so I think I would make that "mistake" again!