Thursday, November 10, 2011

Turkey Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

For my spaghetti squash pasta, I wanted to accompany it with something more substantial and I came across this turkey meatball recipe.  Thank you Giada!  For the tomato sauce, I used Heidi's 5-minute tomato sauce recipe.  Her tomato sauce recipe rocked my world and thoughts on tomato sauce.  If you can make it fresh in 5 minutes, why buy the jarred marinara with all that sodium and other preservatives?  Beats me.  It is a little too easy.      

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks and Giada De Laurentiis
Makes about 19 meatballs (roughly 4 to 6 servings)

for the tomato sauce:
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp crushed red chili pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce crushed red tomato

for the meatballs:
1 small onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
1/4 c dried bread crumbs
3 tbs ketchup
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
1/4 c grated Parmesan
1/4 c grated Pecorino Romano
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb ground dark turkey meat
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

For the tomato sauce, combine the olive oil, red chili pepper flakes, sea salt, and garlic to a cold saucepan.  Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the red chili pepper flakes and garlic just 45 seconds or so 'til it is fragrant (you don't want the garlic to brown).  Stir in tomatoes and heat to a gentle simmer.

For the meatballs, add the onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, ketchup, basil, Parmesan, Pecorino, salt, and pepper to a large bowl and blend.  Mix in turkey (do not overmix the mixture because you don't want the meatballs to have a really dense texture).  Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop, shape the meatballs and place on a cookie sheet.

Heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a large sauce pan or pot over medium heat.  Add the meatballs and saute a couple minutes per side (or 'til lightly brown) and browned on all sides.  Turn off heat.  Transfer meatballs back to the cookie sheet.  Drain the excess oil from the pan and add the tomato sauce to the pan.  Return the meatballs back into the pan.  Simmer on medium-low for 15 to 20 minutes.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Have you ever opened up a can of tomatoes and they look greyish?  I have and it is not appetizing.  I always try to stick to good brands of tomatoes like the Muir Glen brand or San Marzano tomatoes.  I would like to mention that I didn't read all the instructions carefully for the recipe when I was cooking.  I doubled the tomato sauce recipe when I really didn't have to and I added pepper to the tomato sauce out of habit.  Whoopsie!  I adjusted for that in my recipe instructions above.

Fresh ingredients for the meatballs.  I am pretty sure if you don't want to grate the onions, you can just finely mince them.  Also, if you don't like the gamey taste of Pecorino (I know that taste isn't for everyone) you can just replace it with Parmesan and the meatballs will still taste great.   


I used a 1 1/2 tbs cookie scoop to form the meatballs and to ensure that all the meatballs were the same size.  This tool is so multi-functional.  I should have added it on my favorite kitchen tools list.

All done!  I put the turkey meatballs on top of my spaghetti squash pasta with a bit of fresh basil and dinner was ready.

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