These chicken meatballs get a major flavor boost from 1/4 cup of pesto that is mixed into the poultry.  Although some chicken meatballs can be dry, I soak some bread with whole milk or cream that makes them very moist and delicious.  The caprese couscous is a perfect complement to the meatballs and makes for a delicious dinner date.  I used Israeli couscous for this recipe, as my family prefers the consistency, but you could certainly opt for the regular couscous. This is an easy weeknight dinner and you could always roll and prepare meatballs ahead and then get couscous done just before you are ready to serve. Enjoy with a green salad and dinner is served.

Serves 4, about 12 meatballs


for meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup pesto (prepared or homemade)
  • 1 slice Italian bread (crust removed)
  • 2 -3 tablespoons whole milk or cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

for caprese couscous:

  • 1 1/2 cups israeli couscous
  • 4 cups san Marzano or cherry tomatoes
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon, cooked rough chop
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups pearl mozzarella balls
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bunch basil, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • crushed red pepper, optional


for chicken meatballs:

Preheat oven to 400.  In a small bowl, combine bread with enough milk to thoroughly soak the bread.  With your fingers, break up bread in crumb-like pieces.  Stir in egg yolk until well incorporated. In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients and add soaked bread mixture.  Using your hands, mix all ingredients together until consistently distributed in chicken.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (very helpful for clean up!).  Take a heaping tablespoonful and a half of meatball mixture into your hand and roll into a ball (you should end up with about 12 meatballs).  Place in refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up before baking.  Bake in oven for about 25 minutes , turning once halfway through until chicken cooked through (internal temp should be about 160).  Remove from oven, but keep oven on and cover meatballs to keep warm.

for caprese couscous:

While meatballs are baking, prepare couscous. On a baking sheet, toss tomatoes with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to coat.  Season with salt and pepper and garlic powder.  Place in preheated oven and roast until just bursting, about 20-25 minutes.  Heat an enamel skillet, or heavy bottom skillet with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat.  Add shallots and sauté for a couple of minutes until fragrant.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add couscous and turn up heat a bit and allow your couscous to toast for a minute or so, coating it with shallots and olive oil.  Add vegetable stock to skillet and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 15 minutes until couscous is cooked and stock is absorbed.

to serve:

Add roasted tomatoes to couscous, along with all cooking juices and toss in mozzarella pearls while couscous is still warm allowing them to melt a bit in hot juices.  Toss in fresh basil and prepared bacon.  Serve in shallow bowls, placing prepared meatballs on top of couscous and garnish with fresh basil leaves and crushed red pepper as desired and enjoy immediately!