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Turkey zucchini meatballs with tomato sauce and spaghetti on a beige plate.
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Turkey Zucchini Meatballs

These delicious turkey meatballs are tender, flavorful, and thanks to zucchini - juicy and not dry. They are pan-fried then simmered in a simple tomato sauce. You'll love these light and juicy turkey meatballs!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 1115kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion or 2 medium
  • 6 cloves garlic don't worry, only half goes to the meatballs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 lb (450g) ground turkey
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs 40g
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan 45g
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt or to your taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons frying oil
  • 2 (14 oz/400ml) cans crushed tomatoes or 1 jar tomato passata
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 12 ounces spaghetti 340g

Instructions

  • Cut the onion into cubes and press the garlic through a garlic press.
  • Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium/large frying pan over medium-low heat.
  • When hot, add the onion, cook for about 5 minutes with a pinch of salt or until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate.
  • Make the meatball mixture: Soak the breadcrumbs in milk for 5 minutes. Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater, squeeze out the excess moisture and measure out 1 cup (or 140g) of shredded zucchini (reserve the remaining zucchini for the sauce).
  • Add 1/2 of the sauteed onions with garlic into a large bowl (reserve the rest for the sauce). Add ground turkey, breadcrumb-milk mixture, egg, 1 cup of shredded zucchini, grated parmesan, dried basil, season the mixture with salt and pepper. Knead the mixture for 2-3 minutes or until well-combined - you should start to see that it becomes more elastic. The mixture will be rather loose and sticky but after kneading, the meatballs should hold their shape.
  • Shape the meatballs: shape 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) meatballs from the mixture. You should get about 24 meatballs. Place them on a plate.
  • Heat frying oil in a medium/large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs to the pan making sure they're not overcrowded (I pan-fried them in two batches). Cook them until browned on all sides and almost cooked-through in the middle. Transfer them on a plate.
  • Add the remaining onions and garlic to the pan along with crushed tomatoes, remaining shredded zucchini and balsamic vinegar.
  • Cook the tomato sauce for about 10 minutes, until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. I also like to mix it with a hand blender but this is optional.
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer them for 1-2 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Serve the meatballs with the sauce and cooked pasta. Sprinkle with more parmesan and chopped basil/parsley.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Alternatively, you can bake the meatballs at 400°F (200°C) for about 15 minutes. I like to underbake them a little then simmer them in the sauce until done. Pan-fried meatballs will taste better thanks to browning them.
  • You can also use store-bought marinara sauce if you don't want to make your own.
  • If the meatballs are not holding their shape (the zucchini was probably not squeezed enough), you can add more breadcrumbs to the mixture.
  • Calories = 1 serving (1/4 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!

Nutrition

Calories: 1115kcal