This was an attempt at a knock off of one of my favorite lunch spots, Lemonade. I kind of have a love hate relationship with that place. If you’re not familiar with Lemonade, think total California fare served up cafeteria style. You stand in line, picking out whatever salad, sandwich, soup, etc…, that you want, following the person in front of you.
The hate part of this relationship stems from my awful luck of getting stuck behind the person who wants to taste… everything! Lemonade is so kind to offer a “taste” of anything that you’d like, but some people take it a little overboard. If you taste everything, you are basically eating your meal… in line… while everyone waits behind you. And it just so happens that I am behind this person, every.single.time.
The love part comes from the amazing food and delicious homemade lemonades (hence the name). My favorite lemonade is the cucumber mint – so refreshing and not too sweet. They also have amazing salads and these spicy chicken and vegetable meatballs. They are perfect on those chilly LA beach days (I know… shut up, right?!) and are super filling. They come in a pair and are covered in this super amazing marinara and have just a hint of heat.
So I took a stab at making them at home, but with a healthier twist. I’m pretty sure the ones at Lemonade aren’t too bad for you, they’re all about promoting the “California” lifestyle, but I wanted to try and avoid adding breadcrumbs and cheese. So instead of using Italian breadcrumbs as a binder, I ground up some almonds and added some Italian seasoning to them.
They key to these meatballs is seasoning – lots and lots of seasoning. I also added a serrano pepper and a jalapeno pepper, a bell pepper, and an onion. These have great flavor and a bit of heat. But if you don’t like heat, you could reduce the amount of serrano or jalapeno pepper you use, or you could also remove the spine and seeds for less heat as well.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ white onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 serrano pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
- 1-pound ground chicken
- ½ cup almonds, ground to the size of breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 16 ounces marinara, recipe for delicious homemade marinara here
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with a non-stick cooking spray.
- In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
- Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, serrano pepper and jalapeno and saute until vegetables are soft and onions begin to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
- Once cooled, add to a food processor and pulse 5-6 times. The vegetables should be small but not so small that they turn into a paste. Not pulsing the vegetables may cause your meatballs to flatten and look more like little hamburgers than meatballs.
- In a large bowl, combine ground chicken and almonds, egg, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and pulsed vegetables. Mix well, I use my hands to make sure all ingredients are evenly dispersed.
- Take mixture and form 12 meatballs, placing them on your prepared cooking sheet.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until an internal thermometer is inserted into the middle of a meatball and registers 165 degrees F.
- While the meatballs are cooking, heat marinara sauce.
- To serve, plate meatballs in bowls and top with marinara.
- Serve immediately.