Lighter than traditional meatballs, these poultry versions are tasty and baked instead of fried.
If you make this in the summer or fall, fresh basil really makes a difference. To keep the meatballs moist look for ground turkey that is a mixture of both white and dark meat, and if you're short on time you can use a jar of organic tomato sauce.
For the Meatballs:
- 1 cup fresh, whole-wheat breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup finely chopped California walnuts
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley leaves
- 1 clove garlic, very finely minced or pressed
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 pound ground turkey, mixture of both white and dark meat
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing meatballs
For the Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 can tomatoes, 32-ounce whole plum tomatoes including juice
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound spaghetti
- 1/4 cup tightly packed basil leaves, cut into chiffonade, for garnish
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk; let sit for 10 minutes.
- Add the egg and mix well.
- Add the walnuts, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; mix well.
- Add turkey and using one hand, lightly mix and squeeze together, to combine well. Don't over mix or the meatballs will be tough.
- Form mixture, using clean hands rinsed with cold water to prevent sticking, into 18 walnut-size balls and arrange on prepared baking sheet. Brush the meatballs with the oil, or roll them in your oiled hands and set them back on the parchment.
- Bake until firm when squeezed, but before they are overly browned, 15 to 20 minutes -- they will continue cooking in the tomato sauce.
- While the meatballs are cooking, heat the oil for the sauce in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and their juice; bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the meatballs to the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
- While the meatballs are cooking in the tomato sauce, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.
- Drain well and serve hot, topped with meatballs and sauce and garnish with the basil and parsley.