Nut-and-Seed-Crusted Sausage Meatballs with Mustard SauceMeatball. A food -- definitively -- that needs no recipe. A meatball is a hands-on, intuitive feeling. You get your hands in there and mix it up like you like it, like your grandma liked it. You hear what I’m saying. No stress.

Despite my rant for traditional meatballs, this blog still has many samples of meatball recipes: turkey and chicken and lamb. And now I’m looking at the “Nut-and-Seed-Crusted Sausage Meatballs with Mustard Sauce,” from the December 2014 issue of Food & Wine. These meatballs sound like quite a precious endeavor, no? What more does pork sausage need to taste good? Well, nothing, of course.

But coat sausage meat in a spicy nut sawdust (hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds) and you’ll reach an enjoyable earthy goodness. And what more do pork sausage balls coated in seedy nuts need to taste good? Nothing, of course.

But dip the baked balls in a creamy mustardy herby dip (crème fraîche, mustard, parsley, chives, basil, lemon) and enjoy the tangy pairing. It’s all good and it’s all worth it, it turns out.

A 400-degree oven bakes these balls in 15 minutes. Pace it, stretch it out. A bit of fussing, perhaps, but then you get what meatballs should always give you: no stress.

PREP TIME: toast nuts and seeds for 10 minutes, form and coat balls at your leisure, bake in 15 minutes
TASTE:
earthy, nutty sausage with a tangy cream sauce

Next time, I will cook the “Pretzel-Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard” along with the “Caper-Dill Green Beans,” from the February 2015 issue of Cuisine at Home (recipes below). Let’s get a bit silly with pretzels. Come back to my site next week to see what happens.

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard
Makes 4 servings
Total time: 30–40 minutes

MIX:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. black pepper

WHISK:
1/2 cup each whole-grain and prepared yellow mustards
1/2 cup honey
6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
4 tsp. granulated garlic

CRUSH:
2 cups mini pretzel twists
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
18-24 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and seasoned with kosher salt
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 400°.

Mix together flour, paprika, and pepper in a shallow dish.

Whisk together whole-grain and yellow mustards, honey, lemon juice, and garlic. Reserve half the honey mustard; transfer remaining half to another shallow dish.

Crush pretzels in a resealable plastic bag with a rolling pin; combine with panko in a third shallow dish.

Dredge chicken in flour mixture, dip in honey mustard, then coat in pretzel mixture.

Heat oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium until it shimmers. Cook chicken on one side until brown and crispy, 5 minutes. Flip chicken, transfer skillet to the oven, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165°, 10-15 minutes more. Tent chicken with foil; let rest 5 minutes.

Serve chicken with reserved honey mustard and lemon wedges.

Caper-Dill Green Beans
Makes 4 servings
Total time: 15 minutes

ARRANGE:
1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed

TOSS:
2 Tbsp. capers
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
Salt and black pepper to taste

Arrange beans in a steamer pan set over boiling water. Steam beans, covered, until crisp-tender, 8 minutes; transfer to a bowl.

Toss beans with capers and dill; season with salt and pepper.