Mini Chicken Sausage Meatballs with Gnocchi and Tomato Sauce

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 30 min
  • Prep: 15 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Yield: 4 servings, 27 (1-inch balls)
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1 1/2 pounds ground chicken

1 tablespoon grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)

1 teaspoon, 1/3 palm full, fennel seeds

1/4 cup tender sun-dried tomatoes (available in pouches or tubs in produce section)

1 cup, 20 leaves fresh basil, divided

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some to drizzle

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, eyeball it in your palm

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce


1 pound gnocchi, potato dumplings, from refrigerated or frozen foods section of market

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano, 1/2 cup – a couple of handfuls, plus some to pass at table

Crusty bread, to pass at table

Peppery Salad, recipe follows

Peppery Salad:

2 teaspoons steak seasoning

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, eyeball it

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it

6 large radishes, thinly sliced

1 green Italian cubanelle pepper, seeded and very thinly sliced

4 scallions, chopped on an angle

1 cup chopped pickled green beans, available on condiment aisle, or hot pickled Italian vegetable salad, Giardiniera, drained well

2 bunches, 6 cups, arugula, cleaned and trimmed, coarsely chopped

Handful flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped



  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil for gnocchi. Salt boiling water but wait a while to drop in gnocchi.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Place chicken in a medium bowl with grill seasoning and fennel seeds. Pile sun-dried tomatoes on top of each other in small stacks then slice into thin strips. Coarsely chop the thin strips and add to bowl. Stack the basil leaves together then roll them up into a log. Shred the basil by thinly slicing the log. Add the half the basil to the bowl. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the bowl. Mix chicken together, roll into mini balls, 1 1/2 inches across, and arrange on a nonstick cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 to12 minutes or until firm and lightly golden.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. To the hot skillet, add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan then the garlic, onions and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and season sauce with salt and pepper.
  5. Drop gnocchi in boiling water and cook 5 minutes or to package directions.
  6. Stir basil into sauce to wilt it. Drain gnocchi and arrange on a platter. Remove balls from oven and add to gnocchi, equally distributing them. Sprinkle cheese over meatballs and hot dumplings then top with sauce by carefully ladling it all over and around the platter. Gently toss to combine then serve with crusty bread and Peppery Salad.

Peppery Salad:

Yield: Ease of preparation: easy
  1. Place the steak seasoning and vinegar in the bottom of a small bowl then whisk in extra-virgin olive oil and let dressing stand 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add the radishes, peppers, pickled vegetables, arugula and parsley to a salad bowl. When you're ready to serve the salad, dress it, toss and season it with salt, if necessary, to taste.
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