Wednesday, June 4, 2014

That's-a turkey meat-a-ball!

My cravings for all complex carbohydrates continue unabated, but I'm trying so hard to be strong.  So when all I could think of were spaghetti with enormous, fat, juicy meatballs...I made these instead.  And they were delicious, even if they didn't come with a plate full of starch.

Does anyone else know this old commercial?  

What you'll need for your meatballs:
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (mine was fancy from Whole Foods, but you can use any kind you want!)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (use gluten-free breadcrumbs to keep this recipe, you know, free of gluten)
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (I have an Italian cheese blend, it was on sale). 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley (extra for garnish, if you'd like)
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
What you'll need for your Primavera sauce:
  • 1 16oz. can of diced tomatoes 
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped (can you see a theme here?)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T. butter (because you can)
To start, put your turkey in a big bowl, then add your cheese, red pepper, and bread crumbs, then mix to incorporate. 

Next add your garlic and parsley.

Then mix in your egg.  It's helpful to scramble the egg a little on its own before this step, but obviously that's not what I did.
Form the mixture into balls that are about 1.5 inches in diameter and chill them until you're ready to brown them on the stove.
Put your meatballs in the preheated pan with 1 T olive oil (then add the other tablespoon if needed). I brown meatballs over med-high heat, so you get that nice brown, crispy crust.  It's good to not crowd the meatballs, so feel free to add them in shifts so that they don't bring down the temperature in the pad too much. I also try to brown all sides of the meatballs, though they inevitably fight me at the end when they've cooked into weird oblong shapes.  Remove the meatballs from the pan and drain on paper towels.

Prep all of your veggies for the Primavera, it's the right thing to do.

First saute them over medium heat, onions first until they're transparent, then mushrooms until they've released their moisture, then zucchini and artichoke hearts until they've gotten a little brown.

Add your tomatoes, spices and salt and pepper. Then simmer.

Once the sauce is simmering, return the meatballs to the pan, so that they can cook in the juice. I simmered mine for about 25 minutes.

Add a pat of butter at the end, it will bring a whole new level to your sauce and make it almost creamy.  Trust me on this.  Do it.

Pile your meatballs on a plate, garnish with additional cheese and parsley if you wish and then dig in!

A note on using cast iron with acidic dishes:  I cooked these meatballs in my old cast iron frying pan.  The fancy folks say that the acidity in the tomatoes can ruin the seasoning on the cast iron, and I will tell you that it made mine dull, but I've cooked enough bacon in that frying pan over the years, I would have to do something pretty drastic to ruin the seasoning.  That being said, if you prefer stainless steel or non-stick cookware, that's what you should use!