I have a little confession…
I don’t eat a lot of Italian food.
I know, crazy right? I think it’s because I’m a tiny bit obsessed with all things Mexican (enchiladas, chips, guac, tacos… etc)! It’s just too good to refuse.
This past week though I just had a craving for ravioli, lasagna, garlic bread or basically ANYTHING ITALIAN. Unfortunately all I had in my cupboard was tomato sauce, but man, did that sauce look good. Like I sort of wanted to eat it out of the jar and call it dinner.
Is that weird?
I thought to myself for a very long time about what I could do with the tomato sauce. I mean, besides spooning it into my mouth or just warming it up and pretending it was tomato soup. At one point I considered ordering breadsticks from Pizza Hut just so I could dip them in the sauce, but decided I wasn’t that desperate.
I ended up searching the freezer and found lean ground turkey. Obviously cute little meatballs came straight to mind!
Just look at that steamy goodness!
I especially love this recipe because it only takes about 30 minutes to throw together. The ground turkey is combined with an egg and the following spices: cumin, garlic salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, a pinch of cayenne, basil, oregano, plus a bit of dijon mustard. Now that may seem like a lot of spices, but it results are drop dead delicious!
I baked my meatballs in the oven for 15 minutes then transferred them to a skillet with tomato sauce simmering on medium-low. Then I gently spooned the sauce over the meatballs so that they would continue to soak in the flavor. It did not disappoint.
Now you can certainly use a pasta sauce of your choice (garlic, red pepper, tomato basil, or marinara), but I decided to use a simple good-quality tomato sauce since I wanted to jazz it up with my own herbs like fresh basil and oregano. Also, if you don’t want a spicy sauce then simply leave out the red pepper flakes.
I made this dish twice this week! The second time I added sliced mushrooms to the sauce. (You should too!)
You guys… I really love these meatballs from the bottom of my heart. They’re healthy, juicy, and satisfying over a whole grain such as quinoa, pasta, or brown rice. Comfort food makeover, right?
I think that adding the Burrata cheese was what really made the dish special; it melted into the tomato sauce and created a creamy flavorful pop. If you don’t have Burrata, feel free to use fresh mozzarella.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you to jump on the meatball loving bandwagon cause I am obsessed with those little bites of heaven.
Have a great Labor Day weekend!
- For the meatballs:
- 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs (can leave out if GF)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- For the sauce:
- 2 cups tomato sauce or your favorite pasta sauce (marinara works well)
- 4-5 large basil leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Optional: 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 4-6 ounces of Burrata cheese, cut into large pieces
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, combine the turkey, bread crumbs, egg, minced basil, garlic salt, oregano, cumin, dijon mustard, black pepper, cayenne, and red pepper flakes. Mix together and roll into 1 inch meatballs. You will end up with anywhere between 16-22 meatballs.
- Bake meatballs for 15 minutes.
- While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce. Heat a large skillet on medium-low and add tomato sauce and oregano. At this point you can add any herbs or additional ingredients such as mushrooms or red pepper flakes if you desire. Sauce will thicken.
- Once meatballs are done baking, add them to the skillet; spoon the tomato sauce generously over the meatballs and add the basil.
- Place the Buratta randomly in the tomato sauce and/or over the meatballs; continue cooking on medium-low for 5 more minutes or until the cheese has melted into the sauce.
- Serve meatballs over grain or pasta of choice. Would also be great over spaghetti squash.