Turkey Meatballs

Due to a busy but fun filled weekend, I did not have time to do any of my usual Sunday cooking.  My weekend activities did seem to revolve around food and drink though, and more importantly, family and great friends.  From a Christmas in July block party potluck, to Charlie Dunn’s famous cheesesteaks (must get recipe for future blog post), to refreshing wine and beer tastings at Hawk Haven Winery, Willow Creek Winery and Cape May Brewery, to a delicious barbecue of Italian sausages from Canada, grilled tomatoes and eggplant, butter roasted potatoes and more!  I’m pretty sure the 3 lbs I lost last week have made their way back to my thighs . . .

downloadAll of this wonderful food and great get togethers made me think of my favorite turkey meatballs.  Luckily I had a few pics saved on my phone from the last time I made them.  The original recipe is compliments of a 2009 entry from Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog goop, and I’ve been making them ever since.  Along with the pasta of your choice, a good loaf of Italian bread, and a nice green salad, they are the perfect thing to serve for Sunday dinner or at your next gathering of family and friends.photo 5

2 tablespoons olive oil plus 2 additional tablespoons
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
28 oz. can whole tomatoes with their juice, crushed by hand (I like to use any San Marzano whole tomatoes or Tuttorosso New World Style Crushed Tomatoes)
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
zest of 1/2 lemonphoto 2
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 pound ground turkey (preferably dark meat)
1 egg
1 pound spaghetti (or favorite pasta), cooked just before serving
1/4 cup basil leaves, roughly torn
shaved Parmesan

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes, sweating it without browning too much. When the onion is soft, add the garlic and fennel seeds and season generously with salt and pepper. Sauté for an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove half of the onion mixture and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes and their juice to the remaining mixture in the pot.  Turn the heat to low and simmer while you make the meatballs.

photo 3For the meatballs, combine the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, parsley, thyme and rosemary (if you don’t have fresh herbs on hand, a good Italian seasoning blend will do) with the reserved onion mixture. Add the turkey and egg and mix with your hands just until everything is well-combined.  Be careful not to over mix. Form the mixture into 1-1/2″ balls with your hands. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Making sure not to overcrowd the pan, brown the meatballs (about five minutes).  Put the browned meatballs into the simmering tomato sauce and let them cook , gently stirring the pot occasionally to roll the meatballs around, for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour and a half.  Serve with spaghetti, fresh basil and shaved Parmesan. Buon appetito!

photo 4

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