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Turkey Meatballs + Spaghetti

Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
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Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

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Why we love it:

How many meatball recipes are too many? Can’t have enough!! These are poached in sauce, so you get a flavorful sauce and easy-no-splatter cooking all in one pot.

Ingredients

  • 12 Red Onion
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (divided)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 12 cup Red Wine (or white, optional)
  • 2 28-ounce cans Diced Tomatoes (or crushed, undrained)
  • 112 cups Breadcrumbs
  • 2 Eggs (large)
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese (grated, plus more for serving)
  • 12 cup Reduced Fat Milk (2%)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Italian Seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 112 teaspoons Paprika
  • 2 pounds Ground Turkey
  • 1 package Spaghetti

Cooking Instructions

  • 1. MINCE

    Finely dice or mince the red onion and garlic. Divide garlic in 2 piles.

  • 2. SAUCE

    Heat a wide heavy pot over medium heat. Add 3 Tablespoons olive oil, then add finely diced red onion and ½ of the garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Add bay leaf and wine, then add the tomatoes.

    Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, while you make the meatballs.

  • 3. MEATBALLS

    In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, egg, most of the parmesan, and milk. Stir together well and let sit for about 5 minutes.

    Add the spices: 1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 ½ teaspoons paprika, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Stir.

    Add the turkey and gently mix until blended, we use clean hands for this. The mixture will be soft, which is ok because it makes moist meatballs.

  • 4. ROLL

    Roughly divide the mixture into 4s in the bowl. From each section of 4, roll about 14 - 18 meatballs slightly larger than a golf ball and place on a pan. When all are done, lower them one at a time into the simmer sauce. Very gently nudge them so they don’t stick to the bottom and help them settle into the sauce.

  • 5. SIMMER

    Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.

  • 6. SPAGHETTI

    Meanwhile, bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add 1 Tablespoon of salt. Add the spaghetti and stir well so it doesn’t stick. Cook according to the package instructions. Drain, don’t rinse.

    Toss cooked spaghetti with a few ladleful’s of sauce.

  • 7. SERVING

    Serve spaghetti with meatballs and more sauce. Top with more parmesan cheese!

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Substitutions

  • GLUTEN FREE:
    use GF breadcrumbs
  • DAIRY FREE:
    leave the parm out. If you can’t have egg, use an egg substitute like flax and oil or cornstarch
  • TURKEY:
    beef, or chicken, or lamb even

Kid Friendly Version

Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

How to Tweak This Recipe for Kids:

  • This should be a hit as is! Serve with veggies on the side

For Toddlers

  • Mash a meatball and cut spaghetti into small segments that they can’t choke on

For Choosy Eaters

  • My kids won't eat red sauce (UGH!), So I’d separate out the pasta for them and serve it with butter and parmesan. I would cook the meatballs in the sauce but pluck them out and then chop them so they can’t see the sauce. Or, before cooking, leave a few to the side and pan sear or roast a few without sauce
  • Serve with fruit, veggies, and bread

Prep Ahead & Use It Up

  1. Make the meatball mix. They can stay covered and raw in the fridge for 3 days. Sometimes we roll them first, sometimes we just refrigerate the mixed meat and roll later
  2. Cook the meatballs and sauce – tastes amazing for a week and freezes beautifully
  3. Leftovers are stellar on a bun with melted mozzarella
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