Linguine with Italian Turkey Meatballs

CATEGORIES: Italian, Kate, Pasta, Poultry, Stovetop

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?

While the meatballs are cooking, start a pot of water boiling for the pasta and then heat about 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet (you could always use the one you cooked the onions and garlic in earlier). Saute a few more cloves of garlic in the olive oil and then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, and seasonings. Simmer until your pasta has about 5 minutes to go and then add the cooked meatballs and heat through. Serve over hot linguine noodles with a little extra shredded Romano cheese on top.




  1. Did you know that ground turkey isn't as calorie and fat saving as you think when you compare it to lean ground beef? The only way that buying ground turkey is more diet friendly is when you buy ground turkey *breast* meat. If you compare the nutritional facts, unit for unit, ground turkey actually has a few more grams of fat and more calories. Its true! Research it yourself, just make sure you are comparing like to like.

  2. Yum! I just found your site this week and am loving it!! And this recipe is perfect… I had gotten a good deal on some lean ground turkey and needed to come up with something to do with it! I have everything on hand except the fresh parsley, so I think we'll have this tonight!

  3. Just checking the math… it says the calories are for just the sauce. Doesn't include any meatballs??? Calories seem a little high for just sauce. I'm probably misunderstanding something. Sounds delicious!!

  4. I can not wait to try this with my family. I will let you know what they think! If it compares to anything else from your website I know they will love it.

  5. kate, i made the taco soup for dinner tonight and it is so very good! your father-in-law liked it very much2 i'm having a bowl for lunch tomorrow. thanks!

  6. Super recipe. Husband's favourite 'bird' is turkey, favourite cuisine is Italian… so this will be a sure-fire winner all round (plus I am always trying to look for tasty alternatives to beef mince in pasta dishes as it can be fatty in the UK- turkey is the low-fat option for sure).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.