I’m not saying anything profound when I acknowledge that social media, especially Twitter, when first introduced seemed like a great way to connect with people and now seems like a place to witness the worst of people and an endless scream of nonsense opinion.
So, now that I don’t need to check in on it for work I have been trying to avoid it in order to lower my blood pressure and increase my sanity. Of course, the news for the past 6 months (since I left media) has not always made that easy, and the *cough* president-created *cough* immigration crisis of the past couple weeks has been important enough to pay attention, no matter how awful.
But that doesn’t make it any easier day after day to click onto Twitter.com each day.
One tweet last week gave me hope, however. A reason to stay on it, besides being witness to the horrors that each day unfold.
Some wonderful human being posted out of the blue a delicious-looking, semi-healthy sheet pan recipe just as I was feeling like I was out of novel ideas and wanted to try something new.
Of course, because it’s a hell site that has introduced new people into my stream that I don’t even follow I now can’t find said wonderful human being. But thankfully Google still works well enough that I could find the Bon Appetit recipe for chicken meatballs with chickpeas and cherry tomatoes and get it made this week.
I feel faintly like an idiot because we checked three stores to get one of the main ingredients, harissa, which I’ve previously purchased online but was optimistic enough to assume I could find it in a college town. The fourth store had it. Thank you, Fresh Thyme!
So, that ingredient might be harder to find but the wonders of the Internet mean it’s never truly inaccessible. I’d say it could be substituted but it really ties the whole thing together. I’m sure another spicy paste or even some sort of sauce would work, but it’d just not be the same.
Other than our runaround, though, the recipe was super simple, cooked quickly, and was quite simply as delicious as it looked when I first heard about it.
Here’s what I did, mostly sticking to the recipe:
- 3-6 T. harissa paste (varies based on how spicy you want it/how spicy the harissa tastes, as it comes in mild and spicy varieties)
- 1 large egg
- ½ c. panko
- 8 oz. feta in brine, crumbled (this was also hard to find — thank you, Pammel Grocery — but I’m sure if necessary water could be substituted for brine)
- ⅔ c. chopped parsley, divided (I didn’t measure, just used up the small bunch)
- 6 T. olive oil, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, divided
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 12 oz. ground chicken (if it comes in a 1 lb. package, that’s what the recipe calls for, but my hippie organic stuff is smaller, but I found I didn’t need to manipulate the recipe to make 12 oz. work just fine)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved if large
- 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Heat oven to 400 degrees and place a rack in the top of the oven.
In a large bowl, mix together the egg, panko, ¼ c. feta brine (or water), half the crumbled feta, half the parsley, 2-4 T. harissa, and 2 T. olive oil until well blended. Add in the 2 of the garlic cloves, salt, and pepper.
Add the chicken and work with your hands until just mixed.
Spread tomatoes and chickpeas on a rimmed sheet pan. Add 2 T. olive oil, 1-2 T. harissa, and any additional salt and pepper.
Grease hands and roll out meatballs into about 16 golf-ball size, and place on the sheet pan between the chickpeas and tomatoes.
Bake meatballs until cooked about halfway, about 12 to 15 minutes. Increase the heat to broil, and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, rotating once if necessary, until the meatballs are cooked, the tomatoes lightly charred, and some chickpeas are semi-crisp. (If your broiler is on the bottom of the oven, then move your sheet pan there, but I was fortunate to just bump up the temp and leave the sheet pan.)
Meanwhile, mix together the remaining feta, parsley, and 2 T. olive oil in a small bowl. Add in the remaining garlic clove, and stir until all combined.
Once meatballs are done, let rest for a few minutes, and then sprinkle the feta mixture on top, and enjoy!