Even the classics deserve a cheffy upgrade! Tonight, we’re taking our standard, basil-infused cherry tomato sauce and adding a splash of cream for a luscious, eye-catching spin. It’s perfect for tossing with al dente spaghetti and baked chicken meatballs, which are made with parsley and mozzarella for extra texture, moisture, and flavor.
10″ large pot with lid
12″ large high-sided pan
.25 ounce fresh basil, divided
2 pints cherry tomatoes
.25 ounce fresh parsley
4 cloves garlic
2 yellow onions
.25 cup breadcrumbs
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1.5 pounds ground chicken
2 cups tomato purée
.25 cup heavy cream
1 pound spaghetti
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
To separate an egg, over a small bowl, crack in half and allow whites to drain into bowl, and yolk to settle in 1 half of shell. Carefully transfer yolk back and forth between the 2 halves of shell until all whites have dripped off. Place yolk in large bowl with aromatics. Discard whites or save for an omelet.
1. Prepare Ingredients
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Bring a large, covered pot of water to a boil over high heat. Rinse all produce. Set aside 1 whole basil sprig for making sauce; roughly chop or tear leaves of remainder, discarding stems. Halve cherry tomatoes. Finely chop parsley leaves, discarding stems. Mince garlic. Peel onions, halve, and cut into small dice.
2. Sauté Aromatics
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large high-sided pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add onions and sauté, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat. Transfer half of aromatics to a large bowl for making meatballs; reserve remainder in pan for cooking sauce in Step 4.
3. Form and Bake Meatballs
Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside. Separate 2 eggs, and place yolks in large bowl with aromatics (see Recipe Tip). Add breadcrumbs, mozzarella, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Add chicken. Using your hands, mix well, then form into 12 equal balls, about 1.5 inches thick (this is a great task for an eager helper). Arrange meatballs on prepared baking sheet, and bake until cooked through and no longer pink, about 15 minutes.
4. Make Sauce
While meatballs bake, return pan with aromatics to medium-high heat. Add cherry tomatoes and cook, pressing to release their juices, until softening, 4-5 minutes. Then, add tomato purée and whole basil sprig. Once bubbling, reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are very soft, about 4 minutes more. Season with .75 teaspoon salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat, stir in heavy cream, then set aside.
5. Cook and Season Spaghetti
While sauce cooks, season boiling water generously with salt. Stir in spaghetti and cook until al dente, 8-9 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain. Then, remove and discard basil sprig from sauce, and return pan to medium heat. Once simmering, add cooked spaghetti and stir to coat, 1-2 minutes. Then, add reserved pasta cooking water, 2 tablespoons at a time, until sauce is silky and clings to noodles.
6. Plate Spaghetti and Chicken Meatballs
Remove pan with spaghetti from heat. Add chicken meatballs, toss gently to combine and coat with sauce, then taste and add more salt and pepper as desired. Divide spaghetti and chicken meatballs among serving plates. Garnish with Parmesan and chopped basil. Buon appetito!