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Linguine Al Limone with Chia-Chicken Meatballs


Chia gel replaces eggs in this recipe, helping keep these chicken meatballs light and fluffy. The sauce is creamy and lemony, a combination that simply melts in the mouth. As an option, try spinach linguine, which pairs nicely with the flavors in this dish and looks beautiful.

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  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 3/4 cup rolled (old-fashioned) oats
  • 1/3 cup coarsely grated or minced red onion
  • 3 large leaves of lacinato kale, spines removed, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil (for pan frying the meatballs)
  • 12 ounces whole grain linguine
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half
  • Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
  • 3/4 cup reserved pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced or chopped fresh basil


Servings 4
Preparation time 15mins
Cooking time 60mins
Adapted from


Step 1

In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the chia seeds and water and let stand for about 20 minutes. (Makes 3/4 cup extra-thick chia gel.)

In a large bowl, use your hands to evenly combine the chia gel, ground chicken, oats, onion, kale, 1/4 cup of the cheese, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the parsley, oregano, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper, and the red pepper flakes. When evenly combined, firmly form mixture into 30 meatballs (about 1 tablespoon each).

Heat light olive oil over medium heat, then add the meatballs to the pan, being careful not to over-crowd the pan. You may have to cook the meatballs in two batches. Remove from pan when meatballs are browned on all sides and cooked through. About 15 minutes, rotating only as needed.

Alternatively, line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Arrange the meatballs on the baking sheet and roast until well done, about 20 minutes. Insert 4 (10-inch) skewers into cooked meatballs, 5 meatballs each. If necessary, keep warm in 175°F oven while preparing linguine.

Cook the linguine according to package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.

Bring the half-and-half, the remaining 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and reserved pasta water to a boil over high heat in a large saucepan. Add the drained pasta and toss to combine. Add the lemon juice and toss to combine. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and toss to combine.

Add the cooked meatballs back to the pan and toss to combine with the pasta.

Serve topped with finely grated Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and fresh basil.

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