23 February 2015

IHCC Potluck - Building a Healthier Meatball

It's been an age since I've participated with the bloggers that belong to the I Heart Cooking Club. I don't really know why, as I've certainly been cooking along with the Diana Henry theme plus getting a few recipes in by Yotam Ottolenghi, Nigel Slater, and Giada de Laurentiis. In fact, yesterday, the kids came home for an easy Sunday supper of spaghetti and meatballs that came straight from Giada's webpage.

I've been trying to find SB and I some healthier meat recipes, so her take on turkey meatballs appealed to my current foodie mission.

After an outing in the snow, a steaming plate of pasta topped off the cold day. The house smelled fantastic as the sauce that Giada recommends with the meatballs simmered away in the Dutch oven. The meatball recipe was adapted a bit, as I didn't want sausage combined with the turkey. I just wanted a lean, spiced up meatball that I could cook with minimal fat and then simmer in the sauce. It worked out really well. We all liked the flavour and marveled that turkey worked so well in the recipe. So there you have it! A healthier meatball sitting atop a super satisfying mound of pasta!
Now, mangia!

Healthier Italian Meatballs and Gravy

Sauce Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic minced
1 medium onion, small dice
10 large mushroom caps, some sliced and some chopped
a splash of dry white wine
1 tsp. fennel seeds, finely ground
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ c. chopped fresh basil leaves
1 – 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes and their juices
1 – 15 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, diced with their juices
2 tbsp. tomato paste
¼ c. reduced sodium chicken broth
1 frozen cheese rind
½ tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper

Meatballs Ingredients:

½ c. panko bread crumbs
¼ c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
¼ c. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. chopped basil leaves
2 tbsp. 2% milk
1 large egg
1 heaping tsp. tomato paste
1 large clove garlic, minced
½ c. onion, minced
2 pinches Kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
a pinch red pepper flakes
1 lb. ground turkey meat

Making the Sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions and mushrooms and sauté until the onions become golden and start to brown at the edges.
  3. Add the garlic and continue the sauté for another minute.
  4. Deglaze the pan with a splash of dry white wine. Let things sizzle and scrape up the pan’s sticky brown bits.
  5. Add the spices and stir to distribute.
  6. Add the tomatoes and their juices. Rinse the cans with just a bit of water, swirl and toss the juicy water in with the sauce. Stir in the tomato paste, chicken broth, cheese rind, salt and peppers.
  7. Stir well and bring the sauce to a good bubbly boil, stirring frequently.
  8. Lower the heat, place a heat diffuser below the pan, partially cover and simmer for a good hour or two, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  9. When the tomatoes have cooked down and have fallen apart into a thick sauce,add the meatballs and continue to simmer for another half hour to 45 minutes.
  10. Serve with boiled spaghetti and plenty of grated Parmesan.

Making the Meatballs:

  1. Mix the Panko, parsley, basil, and grated cheese in the bottom of a deep bowl.
  2. Add the milk, egg, onions, garlic, salt and peppers and mix well.
  3. break the ground turkey into the bowl and mix well to distribute the bread crumbs mixture.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper that you have spritzed with olive oil.
  5. Form the meatballs using a small ice cream scoops that they are uniformly sized.
  6. Place the meatballs on the parchment paper. About an inch apart.
  7. Bake in the hot oven for about 15 minutes, turning them once to brown the opposites sides.  Check that they are done after 15. If they need more time, roll them again to brown another surface.
  8. When they’re done, drop them gently into the simmering sauce and let them absorb some of the sauce’s flavours.

This dinner fit well with this week's potluck theme at The I Heart Cooking Club ... it's about time that I got back in the groove of posting with those ladies! They always make such great dishes and I've missed them!


  1. Susan, your meatballs look great! I wish I could keep up with the IHCC ladies too. I am just not that disciplined, I guess. Louise at Months of Edible creations is doing a meatball round-up, but you have to turn in your posts by tomorrow. Just thought I'd tell you that.
    Keep warm! We are so dry out west that it's very very scary!!

    1. Hi Debbie! Oh, believe me, I am not that disciplined either! I scramble sometimes at the last minute or am late altogether and forfeit the participation, but it IS a great group of bloggers and it's fun concentrating on one chef for a period of time. As for water ...I sure wish wecould send some of this year's snow pack your way for a spring melt ! Mud season will be interesting around here in the grey cottage!

  2. Gorgeous meatballs! Healthier is good!

  3. Delicious plate of pasta! And meatballs are always a favourite in my house!

  4. That's a beautiful dish of pasta! We're big fans of meatballs so they would be a hit here.

  5. A beautiful plate of pasta and healthier is always welcome. Nice to see you at IHCC this week! ;-)

  6. Any style of meatball is always a hit at my house! This is a beautiful plate of spaghetti and meatballs. The sauce looks perfectly seasoned.Mouthwatering!


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