Leftover Masterpiece – Pappardelle with Peperonata & Chicken Meatballs

I am not a creative cook, by any means. I follow recipes. I leave the recipe creation to people who have actual talent, like Ina Garten or Tyler Florence or Deb Perelman. Once in awhile, however, I happen upon a creation of my own and this week’s is worth tooting my horn. Toot toot!

It started with leftovers from the Pi Phi Christmas Party, I had a good amount of baked chicken meatballs and pureed peperonata in my refrigerator and I thought to myself, “Self, this would be darn tasty served over some pasta”. Well, I was right. I boiled up some pappardelle, tossed it all together and topped with grated pecorino romano. It was a little bowl of heaven. So nice to have a change of pace from a typical red sauce and the peperonata is flavorful, colorful and just delicious.

Pappardelle with Peperonata & Chicken Meatballs

Chicken Meatballs (adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 3 slices Italian bread, torn into small bits (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup milk 3 ounces sliced pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about four minutes.

Cook pancetta, onion, and garlic in one tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly.

Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, pancetta mixture, bread, 1/2 t salt and parsley. Form 12 meatballs and arrange in a 4-sided sheet pan (I used a 9×13 roasting dish).

Bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes (though mine took a good 5 minutes longer).

Peperonata (adapted from Martha Stewart Living & Epicurious)

  • 3 large bell peppers, preferably 1 each orange, yellow, red – cut into strips
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add pepper strips and sugar, and toss for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover pan, and turn heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove cover; raise heat to medium. Stir in vinegar, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt & pepper. Cook stirring often, until most of the liquid evaporates and peppers are nicely glazed, about 3 minutes. Add a little water, if necessary, to avoid scorching.

Let it cool a little and then throw it in the food processor to puree completely, so there are no large chunks. Boil 120z Pappardelle.

You can add the meatballs and sauce back into a pan to heat. Serve over pasta with fresh grated parmesan or pecorino romano. Deeeeeeelish.

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