Growing up, I adored spaghetti dinners. I’d get such a giddy feeling as my mom placed the ginormous platter of spaghetti in the center of the table. It was nothing fancy. We’re talking a box of Creamette pasta, a jar of Prego, and Simek’s meatballs, but it was an easy dinner to throw together. And being the picky eater that I was, I approved of all the ingredients!
Once I graduated from college and got serious about healthy cooking, I had pretty much written off spaghetti and meatballs from my cooking repertoire. Apparently, growing up on frozen meatballs masks the fact that lightened up, healthy versions do exist. You just need to seek out the right ingredients and make your own meatballs –which I envisioned to be a spend-all-day-in-the kitchen type ordeal. But when you think about it, making meatballs isn’t much different than making homemade meatloaf or hamburgers! There’s just a bit more molding and shaping involved. Now that I’ve discovered how easy it is to make my own meatballs, I’ll never go back to frozen! My husband’s even been known to whip up a batch for the kids’ dinner with no prompting from me! That right there is a testament to how easy these meatballs are to make.
I used lean ground turkey in these meatballs, but lean ground beef or chicken would work just fine too. To the meat, add breadcrumbs, an egg, fresh herbs, Italian seasoning, some chopped onion, and my secret weapon: fresh lemon juice (I use it in these vegetarian meatballs too!) The lemon juice adds the perfect punch of tangy flavor which pairs well with the herbs and seasoning, and elevates the flavor of the meat.
After a quick brown in the sauté pan, remove the meatballs and add the marinara sauce ingredients while scraping up the leftover, crispy brown bits (aka tiny flavor enhancers) from the bottom of the pan. Once the sauce ingredients are combined, add the meatballs back to the pan. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
There you have it! Healthy homemade meatballs in 30 minutes. Serve them over your favorite pasta or better yet, your favorite pasta swap like spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. Speaking of “zoodles,” they’re my favorite pasta swap, and I’ve got a dynamite restaurant copycat recipe pairing them with these 30 Minute Italian Meatballs. Hint: there will be lots of dipping/dunking. Stay tuned!
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 egg
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ cup dried breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2-3 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
- 1 can (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup wine (any kind will do. I used regular cooking wine.)
- ½ tablespoons agave nectar
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Form the meatballs: Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Use a tablespoon to portion out the amount for each meatball. Form into 25 balls. Place the balls on a large, lined baking sheet. Combine all marinara sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Cook the meatballs: In a sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Place meatballs in the pan and brown them on one side for about 1 minute. Flip them and cook another minute on the opposite side. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in 2 batches. Once all meatballs are browned, place them on a plate.
- Add the sauce: Add the cooking wine to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the marinara sauce or crushed tomatoes to the pan and stir to combine with the wine. If using crushed tomatoes, add the agave, Italian seasoning, and pepper to the mixture. Add the meatballs to the sauce. Turn the heat down to low, and cover the pan. Let the meatballs cook for 15 minutes.
Nutrition Information (per serving) from Caloriecount.about.com
Calories: 226 Fat: 8.7g Carb: 18.1g Fiber: 4.9g Protein: 18.5g Sugar 10.4g Sodium: 776mg
Weight Watchers Points (calculated on member website)
WW: 5 Points Plus