Your nonna may frown on this non-traditional twist, but your taste buds will scream mama mia! Take your meatballs on a healthy and tasty trip by using ground turkey instead of beef. Finish things off with some homemade marinara and your favorite pasta to turn any night into a red-checkered tablecloth event.
Equipment Needed: Frying Pan, 3 QT pot, 5 QT pot, Large Bowl, Chef’s Knife, Cutting Board, Colander, Cheese Grater, Wooden Spoon
Serving Suggestion: Individual Plating
Suggested Wine Pairing: Sangiovese, Chianti, Tempranillo, Malbec
Suggested Beer Pairing: Peroni, Light Ales
- 1 lb ground turkey (about $5.99)
- 1/4 C Italian style breadcrumbs ($2.99/24 oz package)
- 1/8 C parmagiana cheese ($6/8oz)
- 1 egg ($2.50/dozen)
- 2 medium yellow onions ($.99/lb )
- 6 cloves garlic ($2.99/lb)
- 1 lb dry pasta (we like penne or rotini for this one) ($1.49/package)
- 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes ($2.99)
- 8-10 leaves of fresh basil (about $4/package)
- 1 TBSP crushed red pepper (about $2/jar)
- 1 TBSP sugar ($1/lb)
- 4 TBSP Italian seasoning (about $4/jar)
- Extra virgin olive oil ($9.99/34 oz bottle)
- Balsamic vinegar (about $6/8 0z)
- Mince three garlic cloves and set aside, then mince the other three and set those aside as well (half will go in the meatballs and half in the sauce).
- Put your pot over medium heat and pour in about 4 TBSP of olive oil. Dice 1 1/2 onions and set aside the remaining half. Throw half of the garlic cloves and the diced onions into the pot and stir regularly until softened (about 5-10 minutes).
- Put the ground turkey in a bowl and add the breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, 2TSBP of Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic. Take your cheese grater and grate the remaining onion into the mixture.
- Now comes the fun part. Get your hands in there and mix everything together until it’s evenly dispersed (we recommend a squeeze and twist approach). Wash your hands thoroughly before proceeding (raw poultry can make you much sicko, so you want to make sure you’re constantly cleaning your hands and other surfaces).
- In the pot with your onions and garlic, add the tomatoes, about 3 TBSP of balsamic vinegar, a few pinches of salt and pepper, sugar and the crushed red pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer your sauce as you prepare to roll your meatballs.
- Put your frying pan over lower-medium heat and coat the bottom with olive oil. Make your meatballs by taking about a palm’s worth of the meat mixture and rolling your hands in opposite directions until spherical (think making snowballs). Put the meatballs into the pan and brown on all sides. [Brother’s Note: Traditional Italian meatball recipes often tell you to put them into the sauce raw and simmer until cooked. Since we’re using turkey in this case we want to be sure that things are cooked through. As we’ve harped on before, undercooked poultry is a mistake you only make once.]
- Once nicely browned, slowly slip the meatballs into the sauce and simmer everything away for another 20 minutes or so to cook fully. Stir occasionally and slowly, making sure not to break your balls (sorry, we had to). About 10 minutes into simmering, fill your other pot about 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Add your pasta and cook for about 5-8 minutes. Drain, add sauce and meatballs, and go mmmmmmmm.