Chicken, Zucchini and Lemon Meatballs with Herb Orzo

, from Issue #109. May, 2023
Chicken, Zucchini and Lemon Meatballs with Herb Orzo

These zesty and light chicken meatballs are so easy to make. Baked in the oven with orzo and finished with fresh herbs and parmesan.

Serves: 4


500 grams boneless chicken thighs
1 zucchini, coarsely grated
½ purple onion, coarsely grated
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 thyme sprigs, leaves only, chopped
1 large egg (I used size 7)
½ cup finely grated parmesan
½ cup panko crumbs
sea salt and cracked pepper
olive oil, for frying

olive oil and butter, for frying
½ brown onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 thyme sprigs, leaves only
¼ cup white wine
1 cup orzo
1 ¾ cups chicken stock
sea salt and cracked pepper
50 grams butter
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
¼ cup finely grated parmesan
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
toasted pine nuts


Heat the oven to 180°C regular bake.  

MEATBALLS: Process the chicken thighs in a food processor until minced then place in a large bowl.  

Squeeze the moisture out of the grated zucchini and red onion then add to the chicken mince. Add the remaining meatball ingredients and stir to combine. Roll into gold ball-sized balls and place on a tray or plate.

Fry the meatballs over a medium heat until golden brown on all sides, but not cooked through. Remove from the pan then set aside.

ORZO: Heat olive oil and butter in a large frying pan. Add the onion and fry until just beginning to colour. Add the garlic and thyme leaves and fry for 2 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer for 2 minutes, then add the orzo and chicken stock, season with sea salt and cracked pepper. Once the stock has come to a simmer, add the meatballs and cover with a lid or tightly with tin foil. Place in the oven for 25 minutes or until orzo and meatballs are cooked through.

Remove the meatballs from the pan and set aside. Add the butter, parsley, lemon zest and parmesan to the pan and stir until the cheese and butter has melted. Season to taste, then add the meatballs, and pine nuts, and grate over extra parmesan.