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These meatballs have a real juicy secret

  • PHOTO COURTESY NEW YORK TIMES

This one-dish dinner takes inspiration from chicken Parmesan, but eliminates the fuss of breading and frying chicken cutlets. Instead, chicken meatballs are the star, delivering an equally comforting and satisfying meal. The unexpected secret to these tender meatballs is tofu, which keeps them juicy. Simply press pieces of tofu between your fingertips to create small crumbles that resemble ground meat. The addition of ricotta creates a creamy texture, as well as great flavor. The meatballs are simmered in marinara sauce with red bell peppers, which infuse the sauce with fresh flavor and natural sweetness. Sharp and tangy provolone completes the dish, although mozzarella could be used for milder flavor. Enjoy over buttered egg noodles, or with crusty bread to sop up the sauce.

Cheesy Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

Ingredients:

• 3/4 cup crumbled firm tofu (about 4 ounces)

• 1/2 cup ricotta (about 4 ounces)

• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 ounces)

• 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs

• 1 large egg

• 2 tablespoons minced garlic

• 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Kosher salt and black pepper

• 1 pound ground chicken (or turkey)

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 2 medium red bell peppers, cored and sliced lengthwise 1/2-inch-thick

• 3 cups marinara sauce (about 24 ounces)

• 6 ounces sliced provolone cheese

Cooked egg noodles or other pasta, for serving

• Chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine tofu, ricotta, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, oregano, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, and mix until well combined. Add chicken and gently mix to incorporate. Lightly wet hands to prevent meatball mixture from sticking, then roll into 24 golf ball-size rounds.

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium. Add bell peppers, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add marinara sauce and meatballs, and stir gently to coat the meatballs in the sauce. Bring to a boil, cover and transfer to the oven to bake until meatballs are cooked through, 20 minutes. Top with provolone slices, slightly overlapping, and bake until cheese melts, about 3 minutes longer. Serve meatballs, peppers and sauce over egg noodles. Garnish with parsley, if using.

Total time: 45 minutes, serves 4.

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