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. Kate – those meatballs look fantastic. I'd totally spend extra time with my treadmill for a plate of this.

    BTW – Tried your Black Bean Soup last weekend and it was fantastic. Everyone loved it. I did up the spice by throwing in a half can of jalapenos that were kicking around in the fridge.

  2. LOVE the points & nutrition info thanks!! but they are for the whole recipe or for a serving? if so-whats a serving of the meatballs and sauce? Thanks!!

  3. How exciting about your cookbook!! I'm so excited for you … and for me to be getting it 🙂

    Thanks for your awesome recipes this month, I'm going to be trying them ALL!! Every. Single. One!!!

  4. Thank you SO much for posting all these recipes with the WW info! 🙂 Just to check (I think you said before but I can't remember.) Are these with the new pointsplus system?

  5. Tara–Yeah, I meant the sauce and meatballs; I just wasn't including the pasta. 🙂

    Carrie–Yep! In the post, it says to be careful which ground turkey you buy because some ground turkey can actually be as bad or worse than regular ground beef.

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