I’d really like to be able to tell you that I made this recipe for unselfish reasons. That My Gazelle requested turkey meatballs randomly one day, or that he had a hankering for some zesty marinara sauce out of the blue. That would be a lie. He is a simple man, and he has only ever requested two things from me: tacos and pancakes. In five years.
Tacos (because they’re kind of like a religion in our house), and pancakes.
It’s actually kind of tragic for someone who loves to feed others as much as I do, that the love of my life only requests tacos and pancakes from me. I’ve learned to cope.
Prior to pregnancy, I would often try to cook things that I knew My Gazelle would want to eat. It was more like mind-reading than anything, since my question “what would you like for dinner?”, was always countered with “ehh…I don’t care”. But at least I tried to cook food with his desires in mind. These days, I cook for me. I have no choice–when I get the image of a particular food in my head, it will plague me until I cook it or procure it in some other fashion. It’s kind of disturbing, actually.
So, although my husband would probably sell his soul for a good taco, I’ve only made tacos once since I’ve been pregnant. And I only feel mildly guilty about this fact.
In a particularly self-serving fashion, I decided last week that turkey meatballs and marinara needed to be added to to the rotation this week. If not, I was convinced that I would die. I’m not kidding you guys. It’s really that bad. I’ve walked around since early last week daydreaming about turkey meatballs in marinara sauce. I really think I might need an intervention. And my husband needs tacos. There is a compromise in there somewhere.
I’m just not ready to find it.
The only thing that makes me feel a little bit better about my selfish menu selection this time is the fact that these freaking meatballs and this damn marinara sauce is so good. So good that even when I was completely full of meatballs, I was still dipping leftover noodles in sauce and eating them. Standing in front of the stove. While doing dishes.
I need an intervention for real.
Turkey Meatballs with Zesty Marinara Sauce
Yields ~40 1.5″ meatballs
For the Meatballs:
2 Pounds ground turkey (I’ve found that the best mix is 1.5 pounds of 93/7, and 1/2 pound of 85/15)
1/2 Cup breadcrumbs
1 Cup milk (dairy or non-dairy–any milk will do)
1 Small onion, chopped
2 T Dried basil
2 T Dried oregano
1 T Granulated garlic
1/2 T Crushed red pepper
1/4 t Salt
1/4 t Pepper
For the Marinara:
2-28 oz. cans of Diced tomatoes (I prefer the pre-seasoned ones for a little extra zip)
2 T Dried basil
2 T Dried oregano
2 T Granulated garlic
1 T Crushed red pepper (more or less, depending on your love for the ‘zest’)
6 oz. (1 small can) Tomato paste
12 oz. (2 tomato paste cans) Water
1 T Balsamic vinegar
1/3 C Bread crumbs
3 T Sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Combine bread crumbs and milk in a small bowl and set aside for approximately 5 minutes. It should turn into a mushy-pasty substance. It looks kind of gross, but you need this–it makes your meatballs tender.
- Combine remaining meatball ingredients in a large bowl, then add the breadcrumb/milk mixture, and mix with your hands until combined.
- Roll meatball mixture into 1.5″ balls (I use a medium ice cream scoop to make it easier), and place on a baking sheet.
- When you’ve filled your baking sheet, place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, you can put together the marinara. Combine tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic, and crushed red pepper in a blender. Blend just long enough to combine the spices with the tomatoes. You just don’t want to turn it into tomato juice.
- Place blended sauce in a pan, and bring to a simmer. Add balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, and water, and stir to combine. Bring back to a simmer, and add bread crumbs and sugar. Allow the sauce to simmer for 10-20 minutes.
- When meatballs are finished baking (and sauce is finished simmering), place a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a baking dish, then place cooked meatballs on top. Pour remaining sauce over top of the meatballs, cover the baking dish (with a lid or foil), and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.
You can serve these delicious meatballs with pasta, atop steamed veggies, or eat them all by themselves. If you want to be like me, you can serve them with egg noodles, garlic bread, and string beans. Even though egg noodles and zesty marinara don’t really ‘match’ from a culinary standpoint.
Why egg noodles, you ask?
Because that’s what this girl wanted. And these days, in a race between culinary sensibility and pregnancy cravings, sensibility loses every single time.
Luckily, this recipe makes enough to serve a small army. If you want to make yourself feel a little better about making selfish menu choices, just put a pan of them together for a friend. That’s what I did, and then I kind of felt like I redeemed myself.
Which means that I’ve now cleared the way for at least one more self-serving menu selection in the near future.
And it probably won’t be tacos.