Meatballs are a comfort food around the globe. Consider the Swedish kottbullar, the Mexican albondigas, the Indian koftes, the Israeli ktzitzot or the French boules. They all use ground meat and are rolled into balls. From there, the meatball varies according to different tastes and available ingredients.
These meatballs are an easy-to-prepare weeknight dish. Ground turkey (instead of beef) lightens these meatballs that are roasted rather than fried. Grated Parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, herbs and a simple tomato sauce give these airy, fluffy meatballs an Italian touch. Much of their flavor and moistness come from shredded carrot and zucchini that replace the usual fat or cream. Make sure to shred or grate the carrot and zucchini finely.
Use a good-quality marinara sauce, and add some thyme and basil for a fresh touch. Serve these meatballs alone, with your favorite pasta or on a baguette with the tomato sauce spooned over them. This recipe can also be adapted to make meatloaf. Form the mixture into a large loaf shape, place it in a baking pan, and bake it for 1 hour at 400 F. For extra flavor, spoon over some of the sauce while the meatloaf is cooking.
Roasted Turkey Vegetable Meatballs
Makes about 30 meatballs
Serves 8 to 10
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely shredded
- 1 medium zucchini, finely shredded
- 2 pounds lean ground turkey
- 1/3 cup fine dried breadcrumbs or panko crumbs
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg white
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3 cups favorite good-quality marinara sauce
1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onions, and saute them for about 7 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re soft and translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Add the carrots and zucchini, blending with the onion mixture, and cook for about 2 minutes.
2. Transfer the cooked vegetable to a large mixing bowl. Let cool. Add the remaining ingredients except the sauce and parsley garnish. Blend well, using a large spoon, potato masher or your hands to mix all the ingredients together.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 F. With your hands, gently roll the mixture into meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place them on a large baking sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil. Bake the meatballs for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the tomato sauce.
4. To serve, arrange the meatballs in serving bowls and spoon the hot sauce over them. Serve immediately.
Advance preparation: These meatballs can be prepared one day ahead through Step 3 and refrigerated. Reheat in a 350 F oven for 20 minutes, occasionally basting with tomato sauce. The cooked meatballs can also be frozen.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)
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