Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs


I have been thinking a lot about food these days.

On my nightstand are several books on the topic of food, including Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto & Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. I watched Food Inc. recently.

As I consider my beliefs and relationship with food, how our family consumes food, and how food decisions are made in our world, I am beginning to reassess my current paradigm and assumptions. I haven’t really come to many conclusions, except this: as best as I am able, I want to make daily decisions (about food and many other things) that are good, wise, and healthy for myself, my family, and my world.

Speaking of healthy, how about some spaghetti and turkey meatballs from the lovely Ellie Krieger, one of my culinary heroines? This spin on spaghetti and meatballs is full of vegetables, fresh herbs, and whole wheat. It is also delicious. I’ve made this dish several times, and usually double the recipe because the leftovers are so tasty.

Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs

Adapted from Ellie Krieger

print this recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes liquid included
1 teaspoon finely minced canned chipotle in adobo and sauce, or more to taste
2 teaspoons chopped oregano leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Cooking spray
1 pound ground turkey
1 slice fresh whole-wheat bread, crusts removed, pulsed into crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1/2 cup finely grated carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 box (16 ounces) whole-wheat spaghetti

Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil for pasta. In a 4-quart saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the onions until translucent, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add tomato paste, tomatoes, chipotles, oregano, rosemary, and salt. Bring all the ingredients to a low boil, reduce heat and cook for approximately 15 minutes, until liquid has evaporated slightly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. While sauce is cooking, make meatballs. Preheat the broiler. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine the turkey with all other ingredients in a large work bowl. Form into 2 1/2 -inch balls and place on a baking sheet. Broil for 10 minutes, or until browned and almost entirely cooked through. Meanwhile, remove rosemary sprig from sauce and add fresh basil. Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and cook additional 10 minutes, or until sauce has slightly thickened and meatballs have absorbed some of the sauce. While the meatballs are cooking, cook the whole-wheat spaghetti according to package directions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the sauce and meatballs, toss and heat through over medium heat. Garnish with parsley and grated Parmesan.

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