Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Gravy over Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium onion, minced
  • 1 large carrot, shredded or finely diced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs or panko crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley or basil, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

In a skillet, add the butter and place over medium-high heat.  When it has melted, add the onions, carrots and mushrooms.  Let these cook until soft and the onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and let cook for one minute.  Remove the vegetable mixture from the heat and set aside until cool.

While that is cooling, prepare the rest of the meatball mixture.  My turkey sausage came in link form, so I had to remove the casings before I could add it in.

Combine the turkey, sausage, cheeses, breadcrumbs, eggs, vegetable mix, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, parsley or basil and salt and pepper.

Mix by hand, but be careful not to over mix it or the meatballs will be tough.  Mix them until they are just incorporated.

Set the meatball mix aside in a bowl and let it sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours, though overnight is even better.  If you want to freeze some of the meatballs, you can roll them into balls (I make mine about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) and place them in the freezer on a baking sheet for 3 hours before taking them off the sheet and putting them into a freezer safe bag.  They should last about three months in a standard freezer.

When you are ready to cook the meatballs, there are a few ways you can prepare them.  If you are trying to keep the calorie count low, I suggest baking them in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  If you use the oven to bake them, I also suggest rolling them in breadcrumbs before they go in the oven and spraying the tops with a light application of non-stick spray.  This will ensure they still get a nice crust on the outside and stay tender on the inside.

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I prefer to fry the meatballs in oil on the stove top.  Add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil (olive oil works here as well, though it imparts an olive flavor into the meatballs.  Some people enjoy that, but I prefer the more neutral quality of vegetable oil, plus it is far cheaper!  You will want the oil to be fairly hot before adding the meat to the pan, so let it heat up until it is just starting to smoke.

While the oil is heating up, take your first batch of meatballs and roll them in a thin layer of flour.  The flour is not necessary, but it makes the process far easier.  It helps prevent the meat from sticking to the pan when it first goes in and it helps create a nice crust on the outside that will be delightful when added to the sauce later!

You want to sear and brown all sides of the meatballs by turning them frequently.  I never crowd the pan and generally add 10-12 meatballs at a time in my large skillet.  Having more space makes it a lot easier to flip them over and move them around.  It generally takes about 5-7 minutes per batch.  They don’t have to be fully cooked through, just nicely browned on the outside.  They will finish cooking in the sauce and will be far more tender for it

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Once they are browned on all sides, remove them to a plate or pan with paper towels on it to drain the excess oil.

A recipe for sauce follows.  Save the skillet and don’t dump the oil out!

Tomato Gravy:

Ingredients:

  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes with the seeds removed at the liquid drained.  Reserve two cups of the tomato liquid.
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 sprig of basil, whole
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake (or more to taste)

Directions:

Add the olive oil to the skillet you used to cook the meatballs in.  You are just adding this oil to what is already in there, so be sure not to dump any of it!  Those scrapings from the meatballs will add flavor and complexity to the sauce and tie them together perfectly!

With the heat on medium low, let the oil heat up before adding the garlic.  You are only going to cook the garlic for about a minute.  You want to add the wine and tomato liquid just before the garlic starts to brown!

Add the wine first and scrape up anything stuck to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula.  Add the tomato liquid, whole tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes and the sprig of basil.

Let this mixture come to a simmer.  Turn the heat down to low and let this cook for 20 minutes.  It will be just about finished when the oil at the bottom of the pan is a bright orange color.  You can remove the sprig of basil at this time and discard it.

Add the meatballs to the pan and mix them into the sauce.  You may need to add some more liquid at this stage so the sauce is loose enough to cover the meat.  Cover the skillet and let this cook on low for a further half hour, or until the meatballs have cooked through entirely.

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You can eat this over pasta, rice or over spaghetti squash like I did.  The recipe for spaghetti squash is below.

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Spaghetti Squash:

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Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash cut in half vertically.  Be careful!
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick spray.

When you cut the spaghetti squash, be careful!  The rind is very thick, so it takes a lot of force to get the knife through. Using a spoon, remove the seeds.  You can either toss these or set them aside to roast later.

With a brush or spoon, coat the cut side of the squash with the oil, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

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Place on the baking sheet cut side up and place this in the oven for about 55 minutes.  You will know it is ready when a fork easily goes in and breaks up the fibers of the squash.  It should be just starting to brown at the top.

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Remove from the oven and let this cool for a few minutes before using a fork to remove the fibers of the squash.  Add a pat of butter to the bowl of squash and mix well.

Now top your squash with some meatballs, sauce and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan!  This makes a hearty, tasty and healthy meal that everyone in the family can enjoy.  By the time you get to eat these meatballs, I promise you will forget they are even made with turkey!  These pack all of the flavor but with none of the grease or heartburn that ground beef or pork creates!

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