Caprese Chicken Meatballs Skewers with Spinach Almond Pesto

Makes 26 skewers

I always have a tube of Amore tomato paste in my fridge for recipes that call for just a little tomato paste, like this one.

For the Chicken Meatballs:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup finely diced onion
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 pound ground chicken
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

For the Spinach Almond Pesto:

1 ounce hard cheese, like Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano
1 ounce raw (unsalted, unroasted) almonds
2 ounces fresh spinach
¼ teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon course black pepper
a pinch of red chili pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil 

For the Assembly:

7 red cherry tomatoes, halved
6 yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
26 fresh basil leaves
1 tub of Galbani Mozzarella Fresca Ciliegine (cherry tomato size mozzarella), about 26 pieces

Preheat oven to 375º F and line a large baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.   In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and gently saute the onion for about 7 minutes, until soft.  Add the grated garlic and saute for about a minute more.  Transfer to a medium sized bowl and allow to cool.

Add the ground chicken to the onion mixture, along with the tomato paste, sea salt, pepper, oregano and fresh parsley. Mix gently but thoroughly, using your hands.  Do not overmix.  Form the meatball mixture into 26 small meatballs, about a tablespoon each.  Place on baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.  

While the meatballs are baking, make the pesto.  In a food processor, grind the cheese and almonds until fine.  Add the spinach, salt, and both peppers and process until spinach is ground.  Scrape down with a spatula if you need to.  Add the olive oil slowly through the feed tube and process until smooth.  

When the meatballs are finished, assemble the skewers, with the meatballs on the bottom.  Serve with the Pesto. 

The Italian Dish