I’ve been on a cheese, tomato, and basil kick lately. Not sure whether it’s due to pregnancy cravings or just the fact that I’m ready to eat a little lighter and kiss this crazy cold weather goodbye! Either way, tomato, basil, and cheese is one of the tastiest combinations that can be made so many different ways. Last week, I shared Tomato Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Reduction that personally I think should be eaten year round. Week prior to that, it was Caprese Egg and Pasta Frittata for brunch. So I covered breakfast, salad, and today I’m moving on to the main dish…
Baked Caprese Chicken Meatballs came about two separate recipes that I make at home. One is a kotleti – which are Russian meat patties that are made usually with some type of ground meat and pan fried. The second is a Bruschetta type chicken bake that is loaded with crushed croutons, parmesan, tomatoes, and basil. So for my meatballs, I combined the two for a cheesy, juicy, and most tender meatballs eva!
These meatballs are made with ground chicken, spices, little bit of grated onion (it’s a little trick I use all the time when preparing anything with ground meat). It makes the meat super juicy and tender. I also added sour cream to the mix. Another tip I picked up from my mama when she would make kotleti. It makes the meatballs juicy, fall apart good. And I honestly mean it..when I say juicy, fall apart good. Leaner type of meats, such as chicken and turkey can get super tough, especially when baking but when you combine these elements together you have the opposite.
Oh, and how can I forget about the mozzarella ball inside the meatball! I added that for some gooey cheesy surprise. Plus, what’a a caprese without any cheese?
These meatballs are seared on the skillet for couple minutes until golden brown and then baked with bruschetta topping until super juicy and tender. I hate to keep re-using “juicy and tender” but honestly they are just that! In the midst of recipe testing and just regular dinners, we had these twice in one week and both times they were gone!
- 2 slices of bread*, preferably bakery type of bread, such as Italian or French
- ½ cup milk
- 1 lbs. ground chicken
- 1 small onion, grated
- 2 Tbsp. sour cream
- 1 tsp. salt, plus extra
- ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper, plus extra
- 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
- 16 fresh mozzarella pearls "little ones" **
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- ½ cup crushed garlic croutons
- 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 3 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
- 2 large garlic cloves, pressed
- In a small bowl, soak the bread slices in milk for 5 minutes.
- In a separate large bowl, mix the ground chicken, onion, sour cream, salt, pepper, and parsley. Add bread and milk mixture.
- Shape mixture into 16 (2-3 inch) meatballs. Press one mozzarella pearl into the center of each ball, sealing it inside.
- In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, just until browned on the outside.
- Arrange the meatballs in a single layer in a lightly greased 8X11 or similar size casserole dish.
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Combine the crushed croutons with butter; mix in Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the mixture over the meatballs.
- In a small bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, basil, garlic, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the tomato mixture over the crouton mixture.
- Bake the meatballs for 20-25 minutes, covered or until cooked through.
**if you can't find "little ones", regular size mozzarella pearls can be cut in half and substituted
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