Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs

spaghetti and turkey meatballs - trustinkim.com

Here’s my own recipe a yummy turkey meatball in tomato sauce. It something I’ve been making regularly for years, but I never think to record what I’m putting in, or to take a photo of it. So, at long last, here it is.

I love this recipe because the turkey makes it a bit lighter than a beef meatball, and both the sauce and meatballs have a great combination of flavours. At the end of the sauce cooking time, a little secret is to add some garlic that you have just heated in a bit of butter. This one is so great if you make it ahead of time, as it only gets better when it sits. It freezes well, so if you make a big batch you will have a quick meal that you can thaw someday when you need it.

You can make the meatballs and add them to your favourite tomato sauce, or use the recipe that I’ve provided. Fresh basil is a must for the sauce, and the Parmesan rind adds some great flavour. 

I’ve served this with pasta, or zucchini noodles, with some Parmesan grated on top.

What you need for the sauce:

  • about 1/4 cup diced onion
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jar passata (strained tomato sauce)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste (optional)
  • red wine (optional)
  • fresh oregano
  • pinch of flaked chili pepper
  • parmesan rind (optional, but really makes this taste great!)
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • butter

What you need for the meatballs:

  • about 1/2 cup panko or other bread crumbs
  • about 1/4 cup milk or cream
  • 1 egg
  • 400-500 grams (less than a pound) ground turkey breasts
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons onion, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chanterelle mushroom powder (optional)
  • butter and olive oil for frying

What you do:

  1. In a large frying pan or pot, heat a glug of olive oil on medium high heat. Add the diced onion and lower the heat a bit so that it cooks but doesn’t brown. Add half of the garlic and cook for a minute, just until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the passata to the pot, then put some water into the jar and give it a shake to get the rest of the tomato sauce out, then add that to the pan. Add the oregano, chili pepper flakes, some of the basil, as well as the optional tomato paste and red wine. Place the Parmesan rind in the pot and let that simmer on low heat while you prepare the meatballs. The longer you cook the sauce the better!
  3. To make the meatballs, combine the bread crumbs and milk in a large bowl, then add the egg and mix it all together.
  4. Put the ground turkey, some salt and pepper, nutmeg, grated Parmesan, garlic, onion, and optional chanterelle powder in the bowl with the wet bread crumbs. Use your hands to bring the ingredients together, being careful not to over-mix.
  5. Add a bit of olive oil and/or butter to a large frying pan and let it get hot without burning. Form meatballs with wet hands; I find that this works best when I roll them a bit with my palms and then toss them back and forth a bit to make them round. After you form each meatball place it in the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan – you may need to do this in several batches. Roll each meatball once one side has browned, until most of the outside has been browned. They do not have to cook through, as they will continue to cook in the sauce for quite a while. Once the meatballs have browned move them from the frying pan into the pot of sauce, then continue to brown the rest of the meatballs.
  6. Let the sauce cook on a low simmer for at least half an hour, but preferably longer. I find that tomato sauce splatters so much, so I like to put a splatter guard over it; it keeps in the sauce, but lets the steam escape.
  7. Near the end of the sauce cooking time, heat about a tablespoon on butter with a clove of minced garlic in it. Add the butter and garlic to the sauce. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  8.  Serve with a grating of Parmesan cheese.

 

Turkey and Hot Italian Sausage Meatballs

Looking for an appetizer and wanting to make something for the meat-lovers coming to visit, I decided meatballs were the perfect thing.  I thought about what I would love in a meatball, and decided to improve on what I’ve done in the past.  I combined some favourites that I thought would work well together – the spice of the hot Italian sausages, the lightness of the turkey, a punch of flavour from the sun-dried tomatoes, and then some pistachios for a twist.  I put it all into a homemade tomato sauce, which is so easy, and I cooked them for a long time to make the sauce really thick and to give the flavours time to mingle.

I served them on skewers for appetizers, and the leftovers made a great topping for spaghetti squash.  Of course you could always go with the standby comfort food, spaghetti and meatballs.

What you need for the meatballs:

400 grams ground turkey thigh

400 grams hot Italian sausage, removed from casings (or chorizo)

1 egg

1/3 cup fine breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (or oven-roasted)

1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh oregano, finely chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted pistachios,  finely chopped

1/3 cup finely grated parmesan

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

What you need for the sauce:

1 small onion

1 large can pureed tomatoes

3 tablespoons butter

a little red wine (optional)

a rind from parmesan cheese (optional but amazing! save your rinds for this purpose!)

salt and pepper to taste

fresh basil, optional

What you do:

The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen until you need it.  The whole recipe can be made ahead of time and reheated.  I think it`s even better the second time around.

1. Start the sauce first by simply emptying the can of tomatoes into a pot, then adding the butter and the cheese rind.  Put the whole onion into the pot – it will simmer to add flavour, and you will remove it at the end.

2. Bring the sauce to a low boil, and simmer for 40 minutes to an hour.  Add a little red wine or water if it`s getting too thick.

3.  Remove the rind and the onion, and add salt, pepper, and the optional basil to taste.  If you think it needs it, you can add a little brown sugar to the tomato sauce.

4.  If you made the sauce ahead of time, heat it up in a large pot.

5.  Combine all the meatball ingredients together in a bowl. I mix it with my hands because I’m going to use my hands to make the meatballs anyways.  Don’t mix the meatball mixture too much, just until it is combined.

6. Drop the meatballs directly into the sauce, on a low simmer.  Try not to stir them until they’ve had some cooking time, so they solidify and won’t break as easily.  Spoon some sauce over the tops of the meatballs, so they are all covered.  Cook for at least half an hour, but preferably longer, until the sauce is nice and thick.

Serve on pasta, spaghetti squash, or on toothpicks as an appetizer.

Turkey and Hot Italian Sausage Tomato Sauce

Here’s a tomato sauce you can use for spaghetti or lasagna – I made it up to go in my Mushroom, Turkey and Hot Italian Sausage Lasagna.  It’s pretty easy to make, and just requires a bit of cooking time.

What you need:

3 spicy italian sausages

400 to 500 grams ground turkey

1 -796 mL can crushed tomatoes

1 -796 mL can chopped tomatoes

1 onion

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup white wine

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar, or to taste

a few shakes of chili flakes

salt and pepper

What you do:

1.  Remove casings from the sausages, then cook them in a large pot until the meat is no longer pink, adding the turkey meat and chopped garlic part way through.  Break up large pieces of meat and remove excess fat.

2.  Add the canned tomatoes, the whole onion, garlic cloves, wine, bay leaf, olive oil or butter and chili flakes to the meat.  Cook on low heat for about an hour, or more if you’ve got the time.

3.  Remove the onion and bay leaf, and add the brown sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

Feel free to make a big batch and freeze part of it.

Roasted Vegetables and Spaghetti Squash

This delicious recipe is great if you’re looking to increase your vegetable intake.  You could substitute pasta for the squash, but this is quite filling on its own.  If you want a bit of meat you could add a little hot italian sausage.

The sesame seeds are ground so they are easily digested and you can utilize their calcium and iron.

You need:

1 spaghetti squash

For the tomato sauce:

1 small onion, chopped

2-4 cloves, sliced

1 –  796 mL can crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup tomato paste

oregano – 1 teaspoon fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1/4 cup fresh chopped basil – only fresh will do! *

1 tsp brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

For the roasted vegetables:

1 onion, chopped in large pieces

2 red, orange or yellow peppers, chopped in large pieces

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

1 zucchini, sliced about 2 cm

3-4 cloves garlic, cut in half

2 tablespoons olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons FRESH dill*

1/2 cup ground sesame seeds

salt and pepper

What you do:

1.  Start with the sauce.  While this cooks you will have lots of time to do the rest.  Chop onions, cook in a pot with a little olive oil, stirring occasionally for a few minutes.  Add garlic and cook until it has a hint of brown.  Add oregano, tomato paste and crushed tomatoes.  Give this a stir every now and then while you work on the rest of the recipe.

2.  Preheat oven to 425F.

3.  Cut squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and place face down on a baking pan.

4.  Chop veggies and lay out evenly on another baking pan.

5.  Drizzle olive oil over veggies, then pour lemon juice all over them.  Sprinkle  sesame seeds over top.   Season with a little salt and pepper, and top with chopped dill.

6.  Pop the veggies and squash into the oven.  Take the veggies out about half way through and give them a little toss.  They are done when they get a little brown.  The squash is done when you can run a  fork through it and it makes those spaghetti-like strings.

7.  Just before serving, stir the basil, salt and pepper, and brown sugar into the sauce.  Adjust to taste.

8.  To serve, place some spaghetti squash on the plate, top with some sauce, then top with some veggies.  Yum!

*Some herbs taste completely different when they are dried.  Dill and basil are two of those.  When I find some great fresh basil or dill I put them in the freezer.  They are great to use in cooking – frozen basil not really great for using as a garnish or in something uncooked because it doesn’t look fresh any more, but great for sauces. Continue reading