Confession time: I don’t really like ground turkey very much. Most of my experiences with it have been dry, bland, and I find it very disappointing as a substitute for ground beef in things like chili or spaghetti sauce. But, in terms of a protein option, it’s lean, relatively inexpensive and very versatile – so I’m working on turkey recipes that will change my mind about it.
This one was a definite success! Not only do the vegetables significantly improve the nutritional value of these quick and easy meatballs, but they also lend moisture and flavor to the otherwise bland poultry. Instead of a traditional filler, I added flaxseed meal to bump up the fiber and omega-3 values, and I like the little bit of nuttiness it adds. Flaxseed meal is relatively easy to find, but if you don’t have it or don’t want to spend the money on it, then feel free to sub ground oats or whole wheat breadcrumbs! You can add up to a 1/2 cup of filler if you want sturdier meatball. Another bonus with this recipe is that the measurements here do NOT have to be exact! I gave you approximate measurement sizes, but if you have a little less/more of something, they will still turn out great.
I’m obsessed with my food processor, so it was an easy choice when it came to making these. I just roughly chop all my veggies (I had baby carrots today, so no need to chop those!) and give them a whirl until they are finely ground. I prefer to mix the veggie mixture and meat by hand, however, because I don’t like the texture if the meat is “extra” ground in the food processor. If you want to toss it in there and just mix everything in the food processor, it won’t hurt, but your final product will turn out differently.
Now these are not the most beautiful meatballs, so if you’re planning to enter some sort of food photography competition, choose a cake or something instead. Without much filler, they don’t roll smoothly and will flatten some in the oven, and the addition of the spinach turns them slightly green. However, if you’re looking for an easy, versatile staple that you can prep quickly and then keep in your freezer for later meals, they will do the trick. Plus, once doused in a yummy, rich tomato sauce, you can’t even tell what they look like!
Makes approximately 2 dozen medium-sized meatballs
1/2 c. onion, roughly chopped (any color)
1/2 c. carrot, roughly chopped
1/2 c. celery, roughly chopped
1 c. spinach
2 cloves of garlic, peeled.
1/4 c. flaxseed meal
2 T. seasoning of your choice (I love this mix from The Gracious Pantry, but you can use whatever you have on hand – Italian seasonings are also great in these)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or grease lightly with cooking spray or olive oil.
Throw vegetables into the food processor, and process until finely ground (if you are using oats for filler, process them as well until they are a similar size). In a large bowl, mix all remaining ingredients using your hands – dig in and get everything well incorporated into the meat! Scoop out the meat into generous 2 tablespoon portions, and roll into balls. Bake at 375 for approximately 30 minutes, or until internal temperature of meatballs reaches at least 165 degrees.
Use immediately out of the oven, or cool and then place in a plastic bag, label and store in the freezer until needed.
What are your feelings on ground turkey – delicious, or disgusting?