My obsession with tearing out recipes from cooking magazines has some serious downfalls (including the hoarding tendencies it brings out in me). The main issue is that sometimes I think I’ve torn out a recipe for something but I can’t exactly remember it. This means I often waste an exorbitant amount of time pawing through my files trying to find something in particular. Usually I’m victorious, sometimes I’m not.
Example: Last Friday, when faced with a pound of thawed ground turkey, I had a vague memory of recently seeing a recipe for turkey ricotta meatballs. I started digging through my “poultry folder,” but came up empty handed. I then dug through the “pasta folder” and the “yet to be filed” pile. No dice.
Undeterred, I scoured my Pinterest boards and went through all of my “likes.” Still nothing.
Disappointed in my lack of success, I eventually gave up on the search and turned to my old friend Google. After some browsing I decided on this recipe from Heather’s Dish. Even though I knew it wasn’t the recipe I had been thinking about, it looked like a winner — easy to make and fairly healthy — two big pluses in my book.
Of course, just this morning I realized that I should have checked my WordPress activity list because here it is, the recipe that inspired me! I guess I’ll have to give it a shot some other time.
I ended up using Heather’s recipe as a starting point, making some changes based on the ingredients I had on hand (and the fact that I forgot to buy ricotta!). I also threw in some extra goodies so at the end of the post I’ve included my version for these delectable little guys.
Jessamine’s Baked Turkey Meatballs in Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce
Light and Tasty Balls:
1# lean ground turkey (I prefer a minimum of 90% lean)
1/4 cup small diced mozzarella
1/4 cup pureed cottage cheese (doesn’t need to get completely smooth)
1/8 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (can use Parmesan)
3 each large shallots minced
3 each garlic cloves minced
1 pinch red chili flakes
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce
4-5 cups/32-40 oz* canned whole plum tomatoes, broken into chunks (use your hands — it’s fun!) or homemade stewed tomatoes
5-15 cloves of garlic, peeled (depends on personal preference)
2-6 TBS unsalted butter (optional, depending on how creamy you like your sauce)
Sauté the shallots and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the chili flakes and spinach, remove from heat. The residual heat will cook the spinach just enough. Let mixture cool to room temperature, squeeze lightly to remove excess water from the spinach.
Mix the eggs, cheeses and breadcrumbs together. Add spinach mixture. Add turkey, salt and pepper and mix gently until well combined. (I highly suggest cooking off a small patty to test the seasonings before continuing on.) Form balls about 2″ in diameter. Be warned, the mixture will be sticky!
Take a pan and put a layer of tomatoes at the bottom. You’ll want about a half inch or so. Add the balls — it’s okay if you have to squish them a little bit. Top with the rest of the tomato mixture. The sauce should cover the balls completely.
Cover with lid or foil and bake at 350 for 2 hours. Add the cloves of peeled garlic and continue to bake until they are tender, about 30-45 minutes. Remove balls from sauce and use a fork to mash the garlic into the sauce. Add butter, stirring well, until the mixture is nicely creamy. Season with salt, pepper, more chili flakes, fresh herbs, pesto, whatever floats your boat.
Serve meatballs on top of pasta or polenta, in a sandwich, or just on their own. Regardless of how you serve ’em, these balls will please you. I promise.
* If you want to put these on pasta like I did, you may need extra tomato sauce to get the pasta well dressed. Err on the heavier side of the stewed tomatoes in the beginning.