Do you have a meatball addict in your family? I do, my daughter, every single week without fail, she asks for meatballs. When I ask my girl what she would like for dinner, 9 times out of 10 it will be meatballs the other time it will be tacos. And that’s ok but I don’t always want to eat beefy meatballs, especially when the weather is picking up and lighter meals are on the cards. I needed a plan of action to upstage those beef meatballs and introduce a lighter meatball into the mix. So say hello to my baked turkey meatballs! Lighter and slightly healthier than their beefy cousins, and guess what they taste great too. Result. The girl loves them. These are also known as amazeballs in my house, these baked turkey meatballs are now a firm family favourite.
How to make Baked Turkey Meatballs
First up you will need some good quality turkey mince, I use minced turkey thighs with about 7% fat. Thigh meat means more flavour! Then you will need some herbs, I use a mix of dried oregano and a good helping of fresh thyme leaves. Add some chopped onions, garlic, salt and pepper mix it all up with an egg and you could just go with that, but I like more in my meatball. So crumble in some feta and now you have some seriously tasty meatballs. Now, to keep them a little healthier I bake my meatballs, this does take a little longer than regular meatballs but it’s worth it, and it means washing up one less pan, are you with me? And
The Tomato and Basil Sauce
Every good meatball needs a great sauce and the same is true for these baked turkey meatballs. This tomato and basil sauce is rich and full of flavour, it needs to simmer for at least 30 minutes to fully develop so don’t skip that part. With a tiny hint of heat from red chilli flakes, this sauce is perfect for meatballs. So if you prefer beefy meatballs then it will work great with that too. Once you add the baked turkey meatballs to the sauce, stir in the basil, then cook a little longer and you are done. Hello, dinner! You can make the sauce a day ahead if you wish to cut down on some time, just keep it in the fridge until ready to use.
Serving it up
We have our meatballs the Italian way, with spaghetti, because is there any other way?! I have had these with quinoa, and it was still good, you know how it is, Summer is coming, and low carb dinners are my friend sometimes! But pasta is definitely the best option here. These are best served hot with a good helping of parmesan, freshly cracked black pepper and more basil if you feel like it.
Whats up with these meatballs?
- They are baked not fried, so a little healthier
- Turkey is leaner than beef, so again a little healthier
- No breadcrumbs were used in the making of these meatballs, yep turkey meatballs without breadcrumbs, so a little fewer carbs
- 340 calories per person, that’s without the pasta
- Low carb, again without the pasta
- Family friendly. Amazeballs tasty! The kids will love these.
Baked Turkey Meatballs with Feta and Thyme
For the meatballs
- 500 g minced (ground) turkey I used 7% fat minced turkey thigh
- 1 heaped tsp dried oregano
- 2 heaped tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 fat cloves of garlic minced
- 1 large egg
- 80 g feta
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
For the tomato basil sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion (100g) finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- A small pinch of dried red chilli pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (448 F)Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
To make the sauce
- Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium to low heat.Add the onion, turn down the heat a little then cook the onions for 10 minutes, stirring often. They should be soft and a light gold colour.
- Add the garlic, oregano and chilli flakes if using. Cook for about 2 minutes then add the tomatoes. I usually add a little water to the cans give it a little swish around then add to the pan.Add the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper then bring to boil. Reduce to a slow simmer and simmer for 10 minutes over a low heat. Stirring occasionally.
To make the meatballs
- In a large mixing bowl add the turkey, egg, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper and mix well.Once the ingredients are combined crumble in the feta and mix again gently this time.
- Run your hands under the cold tap then start rolling your meatballs. I got 16 meatballs using a heaped tablespoon of turkey mixture to make each ball.Place the meatballs on the baking tray then bake on the top shelf of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes turning halfway through cooking. They should be cooked through and golden brown.
- Put your pasta on to cook now.
- Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce, Stir in the basil and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Serve immediately with pasta, grated parmesan, more basil leaves if you like and some freshly cracked black pepper.
- Calories are approximate and do not include pasta or extra parmesan
- I used 7% fat, turkey thigh mince
- The better the tomatoes the better the sauce.
Can I Freeze These Meatballs?You sure can, once the meatballs are baked leave them to cool then place the tray in the freezer for an hour. After an hour remove the tray from the freezer and transfer the meatballs to a large freezer bag or container. Label and keep in the fridge for up to 3 months. To cook from frozen add them to the tomato sauce and simmer for 20 minutes.
Can I Make This Ahead?Yes, the meatballs can be made a day ahead of cooking. Just keep them in a container in the fridge making sure they don't get squished. The sauce can be made a day or two ahead of time as well, again keep in a container in the fridge.
Is This Recipe Gluten Free?The sauce and the meatballs are gluten-free. Of course, pasta is not, so use your favourite gluten-free pasta to enjoy these or try them with mixed seeds quinoa.
More tasty pasta dishes for family weeknight dinners:
- Lemon Garlic Pasta with Kale
- Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Tagliatelle
- Vegetarian Lasagne
- Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake
- Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Pasta
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