Recipe: Italian-Style Turkey Meatballs

by Cate on October 20, 2014

Easy to assemble meatballs that are tender, flavorful … and everything they should be. Have Sunday Supper any day of the week.


Last week was a little touch ‘o crazy. Between dentist appointments, cheer, and Girl Scouts, followed by technology and leadership meetings for Nick, dinner all week largely felt like an after-thought. Like we were grabbing something on the fly and just not connecting the way we should. The way I needed to. The way families need to.

So while the kids were with their Dad this weekend, I made plans for a nice, peaceful meal with them upon their return on Sunday, going all out. Clearing off the dining room table from the massive amounts of Girl Scout paperwork, and frames and photos from a project I’m working on. Setting the table with place mats, napkins, and nice dishes. Turning on an iTunes playlist for some nice background music.

And cooking.

I left Sunday afternoon open for just this purpose. To cook.

I knew I wanted to make something Italian, because I feel I don’t do that often enough.


And when I spied a new meatball recipe from Mario Batali, the plan quickly came together.

Meatballs with red wine-infused marinara sauce.

A side of whole wheat tortellini.

Brownies for dessert.

As soon as the kids walked in, they headed straight for the kitchen.

“Mealballs? Awesome! Who’s coming for dinner?”

Surely not helping with the #Momguilt.

But the end result was exactly what I wanted.

A nice meal at home, together. Talking about our weekend. Savoring a home-cooked meal. And thoroughly enjoying the moment.

The meatballs come together quickly, and by using ground turkey, instead of the usual ground beef, they are slightly healthier. Even more so once I swapped out the regular bread crumbs for whole wheat bread crumbs. Once the meatballs are formed, they head for the oven, so no frying in oil either. The marinara sauce is flavored with red wine and garlic, and, well, you can only go up from there. The flavors all come together during its one hour in the oven, and it made for a perfect Sunday supper.

Turkey Meatballs
Recipe courtesy of Mario Batali, via People magazine


10 cloves garlic, divided
1 lb. ground turkey
1 lb. ground pork
2½ cups fresh bread crumbs (I used whole wheat)
½ cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary, plus 1 sprig
2 tbsp. red pepper flakes, divided (I used half of this amount)
1-2 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 red onions, thinly sliced
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups your favorite tomato sauce
2 tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 475º. Finely chop 4 garlic cloves and place in a large bowl. Add turkey, pork, bread crumbs, milk, eggs, chopped rosemary, 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Mix lightly until just combined. Form into golf-ball-size meatballs and place in a shallow casserole. Roast meatballs until dark golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350º.

2. Meanwhile, thinly slice remaining 6 garlic cloves. In a large, ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil over high heat until smoking. Add garlic and onions. Reduce heat to medium and cook until well browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes, wine and rosemary sprig. Bring to a boil and cook until wine is reduced by half. Add tomato sauce and simmer for 15 minutes. Add meatballs and bake for 1 hour. Serve in shallow bowls with sauce. Top with parsley.

Serves: 4

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