I feel like we’re all collectively screaming for comfort food right now. The weather is cold, dark and generally kind of shitty. The political landscape in America is bleak, at best. And Valentine’s Day, which I’ve found to be a rather dreaded day for both singles and couples alike, is looming on the horizon.
All of these things are reason enough to dig into some good old fashioned Italian comfort food. Which is why I decided to make us some Baked Chicken Parmesan Meatballs with Creamy Polenta for today. AND I made it all in just about 30 minutes. Because sometimes when you need comfort food, you need it FAST.
Something you may have noticed over the past year or so on this site is a shift towards almost exclusively plant-based recipes. And while I’m not claiming to be a vegetarian (I still enjoy non-vegetarian recipes on occasion), I’d estimate that about 90% of my meals consumed at home are strictly plant-based.
I don’t really have one glaring reason for this shift in my diet. All I can really say is that eating plants makes me feel good. It’s as simple as that. So I’m going to continue down that path for now. And throw in a few non-vegetarian recipes every once in a while when a craving hits.
Meatballs are one of the few foods that I remember really liking as a child. I was a picky eater, so most things were off limits at meal times. But meatballs were almost always welcome.
I like to make my meatballs from ground chicken (although you could certainly use ground turkey). And I always bake them in my oven. Which I suppose isn’t very traditional. But I appreciate that they are a little bit leaner. And not to mention, less messy and more hands off to prepare. Once you get the meatballs in the oven, you can concentrate your efforts elsewhere in the kitchen – like tackling a batch of this homemade tomato sauce and whisking up the creamiest mascarpone cheese polenta EVER.
This recipe can undoubtedly be made from start to finish in 30 minutes. I’ve done it successfully many times. There is very little chopping. And each component requires less than 20 minutes of actual cooking time. BUT I have to be honest and say that there is some coordination/multi-tasking required to get it done within a 30 minute time frame. You’ll have to manage the tomato sauce and the polenta at the same time. Which isn’t that big of a deal, but it can feel kind of rushed the first time you try it. If all that sounds unpleasant to you, feel free to warm up a big jar of your favorite store-bought tomato sauce on the stovetop in lieu of making your own. That will save you a few minutes.
Polenta is kind of a new-ish ingredient for me. I didn’t grow up eating polenta, so it tends to fall off my radar periodically. But I’m trying to incorporate it more into my life. It’s a great base for everything from these chicken meatballs to barbecue pulled pork to roasted vegetables. How do you usually use polenta? I’d love to hear some additional suggestions!
Are you craving even more meals that you can prepare in 30 minutes or less? Of course you are! Well, lucky for you it’s 30 Minute Thursday. If you scroll down past the recipe below, you’ll find links to other quick and easy recipes from some of my blogging friends. Make sure to check them all out!
One Pot 30-Minute Pasta e Fagioli from Flavor the Moments
Tuna Casserole from My Kitchen Craze
Easy Chicken Pad Thai from Life Made Sweeter
One Pot Black Bean Fajita Pasta (Make Ahead) from Sweet Peas & Saffron
Italian Chicken Tortellini Skillet from The Recipe Rebel
Lightened Up Baked Chicken Parmesan from Kristine’s Kitchen
Healthy Taco Chickpea Lettuce Wraps from She Likes Food
30 Minute Chicken Stew from Bake.Eat.Repeat
Garlic Parmesan Gnocchi with Mushrooms from Pumpkin ‘N Spice
You know that avocado ripening trick that involves placing unripe avocados in a brown paper bag with bananas? Yes? Well, I had heard of this hack many times, but I had never actually done it myself, until about 2 weeks ago when I purchased eight rock-hard avocados that needed a quick fix. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I slipped them into a big brown grocery bag with two bananas, folded over the top and waited. And HOLY SH*T IT TOTALLY WORKED! Within two days, I had the most perfectly ripe avocados ever. My excitement runneth over.
I must admit that I was skeptical about the efficacy of this ripening trick. But now that I’ve seen it in action for myself, I’m fully on board with this procedure. It’s legit. If you’re not doing this yet, you need to start ASAP. And that’s my public service announcement for the week. You’re welcome.
Anyways. So I quickly went from having zero ripe avocados to having waaaaay too many ripe avocados. Hence today’s recipe for Jalapeño and Goat Cheese Guacamole with Baked Plantain Chips. And…I have another avocado recipe planned for next week. It’s going to be an avocado party up in this place!
I don’t think I’ve ever met a guacamole that I didn’t like. I have a pretty standard recipe that I make all the time for myself. And I use it on everything from toast to tacos. But today, I decided to spice things up a bit by adding in a whole diced jalapeño pepper. Does that sound scary to you? If so, just start with half a jalapeño pepper, then you can add in more if you want to after you taste it. But I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the level of spiciness. It’s balanced really well by the coolness from the lime juice, cilantro and goat cheese. Your mouth won’t be burning up. Trust me.
You can certainly serve this guacamole with regular tortilla chips. But I thought baked plantain chips sounded like a fun (and slightly healthier) option. Look for plantains that are still green, which are firmer and more starchy than those that are fully ripe. These are important characteristics for successfully making baked plantain chips.
If you’ve ever tried to peel a green plantain before, you know it’s a labor of love. The peel is so stiff, that it can’t be removed by hand the way you would typically remove a banana peel. Instead, you have to cut the peel off with a knife. Well, I suck at doing this. I usually end up making a total mess out of things, wasting a lot of the plantain flesh in the process. So this time, I decided to try my trusty vegetable peeler in lieu of a knife and that worked great! You’ll have to go over each spot a couple of times to make sure you remove all of the peel and get down to the flesh. But I found it to be a much easier and more efficient method for me.
Both the plantain chips and the guacamole are really best when served within a couple hours of preparation. So make sure you plan to make and eat everything on the same day. And heck, you might even want to try out my Jalapeño and Goat Cheese Guacamole with Baked Plantain Chips at your Super Bowl party this year…if you’re into that sort of thing. And if you want more plantain inspiration, try these vegetarian plantain tacos!