We love our pasta and meatballs. I’m so glad these healthy turkey meatballs and sauce taste delicious and are relatively easy to make.
I used to think turkey meatballs were a sacrifice, a consolation prize. “Sorry you didn’t win the full-fat beef meatballs with sauce, but we have these lovely, low-fat turkey meatballs for you…”
And truth be told, I rarely made meatballs of any kind, since Mom would make them on Sundays for us and give us leftovers. But as we got busier on Sundays and I wanted to cook at home after working full time all week (and making only quick dinners), I started experimenting with meatballs.
They weren’t pretty. Or tasty. My meatballs always looked cone-shaped and were dry. They were so hard, it was challenging to cut them with a fork. What kind of Italian was I?
I think it was partly because of the breadcrumbs. Mom always used water-soaked “American bread” (I was an adult before I learned that “white bread” is the proper term) instead of breadcrumbs in her meatballs. Since I never purchased that bread (I can’t stand it), I would use dry, store-bought breadcrumbs in my meatballs. I also didn’t like the idea of frying the meatballs first, so I tried baking them. But I just wasn’t getting the results I wanted.
Then, I was reading a Giada De Laurentiis cookbook, and she raved about how meatballs made with turkey are healthier and so good that she no longer makes them with beef. Hmmm. So, I started experimenting with turkey.
After a few tries, I finally figured out a way to have fork-tender, round meatballs and a delicious sauce big on flavor — while eliminating the hassle of browning the meatballs first. I use whole-grain oats instead of breadcrumbs and soak them in water to ensure a soft texture. (They also make the recipe gluten-free, if you buy the right oats.) And once I shape the meatballs, I just place them into the sauce to cook.
This has become my go-to recipe for meatballs and sauce. (I do have another not-so-healthy-but-fantastic recipe for meatballs and sauce that I will share with you at some point, and here is the link to my marinara sauce.) We love meatballs with pasta, but they also would be great in a sandwich.
And, here’s a tip: If you serve my healthy turkey meatballs and sauce to beef lovers, don’t tell them it’s turkey until after they’ve tried it. My Dad loved this meal so much, I was almost afraid to say anything. I confessed after his first few bites.
“Really?” he said, and kept right on eating. “This is so good.”