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Chicken Meatballs & Rigatoni with Eggplant

  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

Eggplant Sauce:
2teaspoons plus 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1large eggplant (1 1/4 pounds)
1/2cup chopped white onion
1 1/2cups drained canned whole tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4cup Merlot wine
2teaspoons light brown sugar
1/4teaspoon black pepper
1tablespoon Aleppo pepper flakes
1/2cup chicken broth
1teaspoon kosher salt
Greek Chicken Meatballs:
1 1/2tablespoons buttermilk
2/3cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2teaspoon kosher salt
1pound ground chicken
3tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1teaspoon dried oregano
2teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4cup finely crumbled feta cheese
1 1/4teaspoons finely grated garlic
1large egg white
1pound dry rigatoni pasta, cooked according to package instructions
3tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, for garnish
-- Mint leaves, for garnish

Instructions

To make the eggplant sauce, brush the eggplant with 2 teaspoons olive oil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife, turning once. Peel and discard stem and skin. Dice eggplant and set aside. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 3 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the eggplant, tomatoes, wine, brown sugar, black pepper, Aleppo pepper flakes, chicken broth and kosher salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes to thicken.

While the sauce cooks, to make the Greek chicken meatballs, in a large bowl combine the buttermilk, bread crumbs, salt, chicken, mint, oregano, lemon zest, feta, garlic and egg white. Gently combine and form into 12 meatballs. Place on a no-stick foil-lined baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add the meatballs to the sauce.

Arrange cooked pasta on a large platter or deep serving bowl and top with the meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle with feta cheese and garnish with mint leaves.

Makes 4 servings

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