SPAGHETTI WITH MINI TURKEY MEATBALLS

I fear the reason I'll never be skinny is pasta.  I love cooking it, eating it, looking at pictures of it.  The great thing about pasta is that it can easily be made healthier, and this recipe is a testament to that.  It's loaded with fresh ingredients and it's absolutely delicious. You can easily substitute gluten free pasta/bread for those who are intolerant, omit the butter in the tomato sauce, trade out beef for turkey, etc.  

For meatballs

From Giada De Laurentis

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves
  •  1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup of dried bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 1/4 cup of chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 pound of turkey meat
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 26 ounces of Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows, or store-bought marinara

Directions:

  1. Add the onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, ketchup, parsley, Parmesan, Pecorino, salt and pepper to a large bowl and blend.
  2. Shape the turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. I used an ice cream scoop. Place on a large plate or baking sheet.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and saute until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Pour off any excess oil.
  4. Add the marinara sauce, about 2 1/2 cups. Reserve half a cup of sauce. Return all the meatballs to the pan. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors blend, 15 to 20 minutes. 
  5. Boil water for pasta and cook according to manufacturer's instructions.  
  6. Toss the spaghetti with the reserved marina sauce, spoon meatballs on top to serve and garnish with basil and parmesan.

For Simple Tomato sauce

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 4 to 6 basil leaves
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

Directions:

In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium high heat.

Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes.  

Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. 

Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick.

Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

Add half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.

If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.