I discovered this recipe a few years ago when I was kind feeling lost in my life, a few months before Sara and I started this blog. It quickly became one of my favorites, something easy and yummy I could throw together for company and a little different from my old-standby Spaghetti and Meatballs. I’ve tweaked it a little here and there–I’ve made the sauce “saucier” to stretch it out a little further and to increase the whole veggie-to-meat ratio. I’ve also used bacon a few times, which I actually recommend (even if I’m using pancetta in this picture; do as I say, not as I do, right?!). Bacon and pancetta are essentially the same cut of meat (pancetta is not smoked like bacon), but bacon has a lot more flavor, so you can use significantly less bacon, thereby cutting some fat and calories.
This recipe is a little bit of a splurge, but it’s still do-able when you’re trying to watch what you eat. The real culprit is the pasta (shocking, right?), and the sauce is so filling (and the servings that I have measured) are so generous that you could make the meatballs smaller and have the recipe make 10 servings, or go for more sauce and less pasta.
The sauce is super simple–you’ll need canned tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, flat-leaf parsley, basil, salt, and pepper. But we can worry about that later.
You’ll start off with the meatballs–you’ll need some of that flat-leaf parsley from the sauce, about 2 ounces of freshly grated Romano cheese, a few cloves of garlic, a small onion, sundried tomatoes (or these roasted tomatoes), salt, pepper, some chopped up bacon or pancetta (like I said, bacon will give you more bang for your buck, plus, speaking of bucks, it’s cheaper), bread crumbs, a couple of eggs, and some lean ground turkey.
It’s really important to be careful which turkey you buy (at least if you’re watching what you’re eating) because not all ground turkey is created equal; if you buy just regular ground turkey, it can be just as bad or worse than regular ground beef in terms of fat and calories. So make sure you’re getting extra-lean turkey (like 93% lean) or even ground turkey breast, which can be up to 99% fat free.
Preheat your oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment. In a large skillet, cook the bacon or pancetta with the onion and garlic and then set it aside to cool. Gently combine the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl with your hands and then shape scant tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
Pop those babies in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they’re golden brown.
Can you see that Romano cheese oozing out of the meatball? Does it not make you want one right now?
Linguine with Italian Turkey Meatballs
Recipe adapted by Our Best Bites from Domestication in Progress
1 lb. extra-lean ground turkey
2 oz. pancetta or 3 strips lean bacon (not maple or brown sugar), finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 c. freshly grated Romano cheese
1/4 c. fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley
1/4 c. plain bread crumbs
1/4 c. chopped sun-dried or oven-roasted tomatoes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/4 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. water (just use the tomato paste can to measure the water)
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried basil
Preheat the oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil. In a large skillet, cook the chopped bacon or pancetta with the minced onion and garlic until the meat is crispy and the onions and garlic are tender and fragrant. Set aside and allow to cool. Combine the remaining meatball ingredients and then add the bacon/onion/garlic mixture. Shape scant tablespoons into balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes or until the meatballs are golden brown.
While the meatballs are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. In the same skillet used to cook the bacon, heat about 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat and cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes or until it’s fragrant. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and simmer until the meatballs are done. Transfer the meatballs to the sauce and serve over hot linguine noodles. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition Information (for sauce & meatballs only)
WW Points: 6