At the market I picked up some organic ground turkey. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with it. Some thoughts included turkey tacos, turkey burgers, or meatballs. Ron suggested spaghetti and meatballs, which we hadn’t had in years, so I went for it. This is how I created my turkey thyme meatballs.
There’s something tastier and more Spring-like about a turkey meatball versus ones made of veal, beef, pork, or combinations thereof. There’s definitely less fat with an all-turkey meatball, which is always a good move. Turkey meatballs are lighter and, to my mind, allow for more experimentation with different spices and herbs.
I made the tomato sauce based on my lasagna recipe, but tweaked it a bit. I made a little more than half of the sauce from that recipe and added in six fresh plum tomatoes (which Ron crushed with his hands), two cubanelle peppers, two tablespoons of tomato paste, one red onion, one can of tomato puree and three to four cups of lukewarm water.
Since I am a lover of quinoa noodles, I made quinoa spaghetti for myself and regular linguini for Ron.
- 1 package organic ground turkey
- 1/4 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of gluten-free flour (or regular flour) for dusting
- a pinch or two of sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Prepare and wash all the vegetables and herbs before slicing and chopping. Make sure to pat them dry with a towel. You are going to start the red sauce or any sauce of your choosing before you make the meatballs. Give yourself at least 40 minutes to cook the homemade sauce over low/simmer before adding in the meatballs.
Next, cut a quarter of the fennel bulb, set aside and put the remainder of the fennel bulb in the fridge. Wrap it with plastic wrap or put it in a Ziploc bag. I usually put all my vegetables unwrapped in the crisper. They do stay fresh this way, too. This makes it easier when Ron is all groggy in the morning he’s pulling vegetables out to make us fresh juice. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite juicing recipes in the future.
Next in the process of making yourself fabulous Turkey Thyme Meatballs, chop the fennel, parsley and thyme. Measure out one tablespoon of paprika and one teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
In a large nonreactive bowl add the ground turkey meat, plus the fennel, thyme, parsley, egg, paprika and cayenne pepper.
Place in a pinch or two of fresh ground pepper and sea salt or just a couple squeezes if using the Chef’n PepperBalll and SaltBall we’ve been raving about. Mix thoroughly with your hands making sure all the ingredients blend evenly.
Now, grab a plate and start forming meatballs. I like to make mine approximately the size of a golf ball or ping pong ball.
Continue forming meatballs until the bowl is empty. Use a second plate or place wax paper on the first batch, to layer on the second batch. I love using wax paper. Why dirty another plate?!
Next place the meatballs in the fridge for about ten minutes before dusting in flour. This is a good time to check on your sauce. And change your shirt if you dropped any food on it, like I did!
After the ten minutes, pull the meatballs from your fridge and roll them in flour. I use gluten-free flour, but you can use whatever flour you like.
Continue until all the meatballs are dusted in flour. Next, add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan over medium high heat.
Once the oil is hot, add in about six or seven meatballs. Do not crowd the pan because the meatballs need room to move in order to brown on all sides.
Brown the meatballs on all sides and then add them to the sauce. Turn the heat to simmer and cover the pot. Let the meatballs cook in the sauce for about 30-40 minutes.
Now it’s time to cook the pasta of your preference. Follow directions on the box. Drain the pasta and set aside until the meatballs are fully cooked. Cook this dish a few times and you’ll be able to time it perfectly so both the meatballs and the pasta are done within a minute or so of each other.
Once the the turkey meatballs are fully cooked, plate the pasta, then add sauce and meatballs on top. You can add as much sauce and meatballs as you like. Garnish with fresh parsley and maybe some parmigiano reggiano, plus salt and pepper to taste.
This dinner was seriously yummy, plus we had enough left over for dinner the following night. The fennel adds a nice flavor in place of the typical garlic or onion. Even though the meatballs had paprika and cayenne, they were not overly spicy or smoky. It had a touch of heat which went well the flavors of the dish.
Don’t forget to enter to win the Chef’n SaltBall and PepperBall (photographed above). Enter to win here and good luck!