Spaghetti and meatballs, it’s a meal I consider one of the ultimate winter comfort foods. It is certainly a classic. Remember that scene from Lady and the Tramp? A classic! The original calls for ground beef, eggs and breadcrumbs. But what about replacing those meatballs with ground turkey and ricotta? I’ve done this before with turkey burgers and recently saw the same idea using meatballs in a new cookbook, Small Victories (see the link below). No breadcrumbs or eggs required. Even better, these are baked, not fried. The meatballs are moist and flavorful, full of fresh herbs. You could serve them with zoodles (spiralized zucchini noodles) for the ultimate gluten free dinner. This easy recipe makes enough meatballs to freeze a batch for a future meal, any leftover tomato sauce is delicious with baked eggs for brunch.
This recipe makes a large sheet pan of meatballs, 6-8 servings.
- 2 28-ox cans of whole peeled Italian tomatoes
- 1/4 cup red or white wine or water
- 7 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 7 garlic cloves, 4 thinly sliced and 3 minced
- kosher salt
- 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1 cup of fresh Italian flat leaved parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups of fresh whole milk ricotta
- 1/2 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- 2 lb. of ground dark meat turkey
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drizzle the baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and smear to cover the sheet.
- In a large bowl combine the minced garlic, basil, parsley, ricotta, parmesan, turkey and 1 tablespoon salt. Mix everything together until well blended, not too roughly.
- Use your hands to to form golf ball sized meatballs, you can wet your hands to prevent it from sticking. Transfer the meatballs to the lined baking sheet. It is ok if they are fairly close together or lightly touching.
- Drizzle the meatballs with another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bake until browned and firm, about 25 minutes.
While the meatballs are baking, start the sauce.
- Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and crush them, the easiest way is with your hands.
- Add the wine or water to one of the cans and swish it around, add it to the second can again rinsing to clean out any remaining tomato and add it to the bowl.
- Warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook about one minute (make sure it does not burn). Add the tomatoes and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer for about 10-20 minutes.
- Remove the desired number of meatballs from the baking tray with tongs and gently add them to the simmering sauce.
- Cook for at least another 10 minutes for the flavors to meld, but they can go longer (up to an hour according the recipe but I wouldn’t leave them so long).
Any leftover meatballs can be frozen.
This recipe came from the excellent cook book Small Victories by Julia Turshen.
I am taking this comforting winter dish to Fiesta Friday #161 hosted by Angie. Her cohost this week is Laura @ Feast Wisely. Click on the link to join the fun and read the recipes brought to the virtual party by other bloggers.
I enjoy reading and trying different versions of meatballs. Adding two kinds of cheese is a great idea – as it usually ends up being a topping. You add quite a bit of fresh herbs too – can’t wait for summer and I can grow my own basil and parsley.
Thank you, the fresh herbs really add a dash of flavor.
Love this recipe Liz – using ricotta in meatballs is so underrated but it works so well! Thanks for sharing at Fiesta Friday 161 – I was so pleased to see your post pop up when working through all of this week’s lovely recipes as co-host!
Hi Laura, thank you for co-hosting. After being away it is difficult to get back into the habit of taking pictures of the food, much less writing a post. I am looking forward to reading my way through the posts on FF.
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