Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chicken Meatballs in Tomato-Pesto Sauce

Thanksgiving was fabulous, fun and a free-for-all food wise, but it’s time to put the brakes on the calories. With Christmas and New Year’s around the corner, I’ve got to get into my party clothes!

The next three weeks will be devoted to eating light and eating well! I have a bunch of delicious recipes that are low in calories, but loaded with flavor. This tasty recipe comes courtesy of Weight Watchers (WW) My Turnaround Program Cookbook. The combination of meatballs with the rich, tomato-pesto sauce makes for a delicious and satisfying meal. I know some people might think recipes from WW would be boring or bland, but they are surprisingly sophisticated. And best of all they’re easy, fast fare. You can make this dish in 30 minutes or less. It's a great weeknight meal.
Chicken Meatballs in Tomato-Pesto Sauce

Ingredients
Serves 4
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil packed)
1 cup prepared sun-dried tomato past sauce
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup water (reserved from hydrating sun-dried tomatoes)
1 lb. ground chicken breast (white meat)
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg white
¼ tsp. ground pepper
½ tsp. salt
1 tbls. olive oil

Preparation
Combine the sun-dried tomatoes with 1 cup boiling water in a bowl and let stand until softened. About 10 minutes. Drain, and reserve water. Put sun-dried tomatoes, pasta sauce, basil, and cold water in a blender and puree.

Combine the chicken, bread crumbs, cheese, egg white, and pepper and salt in a large bowl until well mixed. Shape the mixture into approximately 20 meatballs. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook until brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. 

Add the sun-dried tomato mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered until the meatballs are cooked through, 7-10 minutes.

A serving of 4 meatballs, 1/3 cup sauce and ½ cup pasta is 8 points (not sure of the calorie count, but probably around 350-400 calories).  Who says, "Diet is Die with a T?" Not in this house!

Tips and Tidbits
Wear surgical plastic gloves (you can buy them at the drug store) to form the meatballs to keep the ground chicken from getting under your nails. No muss, no fuss! (I also use them when I'm handling fish.)
WW has a great suggestion for turning the leftovers into a meatball sub: Fill a 2-ounce hero roll with 5 meatballs and 1/3 cup sauce, then top with 2 tbls. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. Wrap the sandwich in foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cut in half for two servings. If you have an oven at work, treat a friend to the other serving and enjoy delicious lunch! (6 points).

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