My friend Jenny Rosenstrach is warm, wise and a genius when it comes to dinners. Her new book, Dinner: The Playbook, takes you through 30 days of dinners, inspired by a time she and her husband, Andy, challenged themselves to make 30 different meals and have their young daughters try them all. I especially love her recipe for chicken parm meatballs, and here’s how she makes them…

Chicken Parm Meatballs
by Jenny Rosenstrach of Dinner: A Love Story

I wish I could say that the most popular recipes in my family dinner rotation happen as a result of wandering through the farmer’s market waiting for the pile of heirloom pattypan squash to tell me what to cook. But, alas, the real story is almost always less romantic. It’s not so much “What’s inspiring me at the market?” than it is “What vegetables do I have in the fridge that aren’t liquefied? What can I make in between dropping off Kid 1 and picking up Kid 2? What can I cook that both girls can agree on?” Anyone who has more than one kid will appreciate this last problem, which was the genesis of my new most favorite thing on Earth to make for the family: Chicken Parm Meatballs. One daughter wanted Chicken Parm, one wanted meatballs. And who was I to say no to either?

Also, don’t skip the lemon zest or the fennel. That’s what takes the meatballs from being good to great.

Recipe: Chicken Parm Meatballs
(Makes about 20 meatballs)

What you’ll need:

1 1/4 lbs ground chicken
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 cup Pecorino (or Parm)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 egg, whisked
zest of half a lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 14-oz can storebought pizza sauce or homemade marinara sauce
about 4 oz fresh mozzarella (a dozen thin slices; to pile on the cheese would be to cancel out the fact that you were virtuous enough to replace fatty beef with lean chicken)

Preheat oven to 400F, setting rack to upper third part of oven. In a large bowl, using your hands, gently mix together first 11 ingredients. Shape into lacrosse-ball size balls (that would be somewhere between golf and tennis) and place a few inches from each other on a foil-lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix one spoonful of your pizza sauce with olive oil. Brush this mixture on top of each meatball. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove meatballs from oven, spoon some sauce on top of each meatball, and cover each with a slice of cheese. Broil another 3 to 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden. Heat remaining sauce in a small saucepan. Serve meatballs with a dollop of sauce.

Thank you so much, Jenny! We love your new book!

P.S. More recipes, including cheesy mashed potatoes and homemade spaghetti sauce.

(Photos and recipe courtesy of Jenny Rosenstrach. Thanks to Caroline Donofrio for helping with this series.)