This dish was inspired by R+D Kitchen and Milo + Olive, two of my favorite local spots in Santa Monica. Their chicken meatballs in tomato sauce are light but with a bit of heat and served without a strand of spaghetti in sight. Instead, they are ladled over arugula. For my version, I pair my spicy chicken meatballs with an equally spicy tomato sauce: Arrabbiata, which means "angry" in Italian. With fresh basil, bitter arugula, pungent red onion and a little Parm, this dish is perfect by itself, but if you want to push it into hearty territory, serve it over some spaghetti. Pile any leftovers onto an Italian roll for an epic sandwich the next day. Enjoy!
For the meatballs: Mix together the breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, oregano, tomato paste, cayenne, paprika, parsley, Parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large bowl; add the chicken, milk and egg. Gently blend together with your fingertips, then form into 2-inch balls. Don't compact the meatballs too much or they'll be dense and dry.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add a few tablespoons of olive oil to coat. Add the meatballs and cook until a deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes on each of their 4 sides. It's OK if they're not fully cooked through, as they'll finish cooking in the sauce. (If you're not cooking them in the sauce, then cook the meatballs over medium heat until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side.)
For serving: Pour the hot Arrabbiata into the skillet with the meatballs. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook until the meatballs are fully cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes.
Top with the red onions and Parmesan, then ladle over a handful of arugula in each serving bowl. Garnish with the basil and enjoy!
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the alcohol has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the basil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.
Blend the sauce with an immersion blender (or in 2 batches in a blender) until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Makes about 4 cups. Refrigerate any leftover sauce in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
When blending hot liquid, first let it cool for five minutes or so, then transfer it to a blender, filling only halfway. Put the lid on, leaving one corner open. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel to catch splatters, and pulse until smooth.