Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Turkey Meatballs with Simple Marinara

I think I’m on a ground turkey kick. After making these a couple of weeks ago, I started looking for a new ground turkey recipe.  I couldn’t come across anything that really caught my eye.  But you can’t go wrong with spaghetti and meatballs, right?  I decided that I wouldn’t really change my meatball recipe at all, except for exchanging the ground beef for ground turkey.  A couple of modifications were needed but these were really incredible!  
I don’t even have this meatball recipe written down and the amounts are kind of tough to measure.  This is one that I learned from my mom in that you just add and sprinkle and stir and add some more until they are the right consistency and they look scrumptious.  I did my best to put the measurements down but you can always go with what feels right to you too.  Turkey has a little bit more moisture than ground beef so you might find that you’ll need a bit more bread crumbs for the mixture to hold together.  
I used all white-meat turkey that is very lean so I drizzled some olive oil over the top before baking to help them brown. This wouldn’t be necessary if you are using a less-lean ground turkey.  In addition, I baked these to keep the fat content down.  My mom might be cringing at that fact that I baked them instead of pan-frying and I must admit that they would have been crispier and a bit tastier had I fried them!  They would also be good cooked into the sauce if you have time to let them cook through. 
This marinara sauce is one that I usually just toss together as well.  You can’t have marinara without onion, garlic, herbs and tomatoes and the rest…well it just falls into place.  The wine gives it a lot of depth and the sugar adds a wonderful sweetness in the background.  And, as with the meatballs, you can adapt this to your liking as you go. 

 Turkey Meatballs (printable recipe)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey breast
  • 1/2 – 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat olive oil in a medium sauté pan.  Cook onion and garlic over medium heat until soft and fragrant.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, add onions and garlic and mix well (usually it’s easiest to use your hands).  Start with just 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and add more as needed for consistency.  You don’t want it to be mushy but you want the mixture to be a little moist.
  3. Place a wire cooling rack over a cookie sheet pan and form the turkey mixture into medium sized balls.  Place on the cooling rack and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.  If you would prefer a crispy texture, you can brown the meatballs in a pan with some olive oil and then finish baking in the oven.  
  4. Serve over your choice of pasta with the marinara sauce and extra parmesan cheese to garnish!
Original recipe
Simple Marinara (printable recipe)
  • 1 Tb. butter
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tb. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat butter and olive oil in a large pot and add onions, sauté until golden brown and fragrant.
  2. Add garlic and sauté several minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the garlic from burning.  Add the dried herbs and sauté until fragrant.  Deglaze the pan with the wine and add the sugar, tomatoes and tomato sauce.
  3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until sauce thickens, add salt and pepper to taste.
Original recipe

3 Responses to “Turkey Meatballs with Simple Marinara”

  1. #
    Sarah — March 16, 2011 @ 11:31 pm

    These look great! I'm always looking for more things to do with ground turkey. Thanks for sharing!

  2. #
    Kristen — March 17, 2011 @ 10:32 am

    What a delicious looking meal! I love making meatballs from turkey; it gives them a really nice flavor.

  3. #
    Reeni — March 17, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

    Your turkey meatballs look wonderful! My aunt used to make these all the time and I couldn't even tell they were turkey – with all the seasonings they tasted like beef.

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