Friday, April 16, 2010

Pasta with Turkey Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce

This recipe marks my 300th post!  Who knew?  Anyone who wondered if I'd keep it up this long, well, there's your answer.  And what better way to celebrate than with a plate filled with comfort food?

We're not looking at any ordinary spaghetti and meatballs here, folks.  These are moist, flavorful turkey meatballs doused with super spicy, rich tomato sauce.  And better yet, they're healthy, too!  We were all out of spaghetti in our house, so I used whole wheat elbows instead.  Feel free to use whatever whole wheat pasta you like.

Also, the sauce is spicy, folks.  I boldly assumed that Ellie's recipe wasn't going to be spicy enough for me, so I amped up the spice.  This led to a dish that had me reaching for my water glass after every other bite.  Don't get me wrong, it was fabulous, but it was a bit hotter than intended.  So take my word for it, don't increase the chipotle pepper quantity unless you want to be sweating while you eat your pasta. 

The meatballs are definitely the best turkey meatballs I've ever made.  The carrot and onion provide a sweetness and texture that is really tasty.  I highly recommend them! 

This recipe makes a lot, so you will have leftovers for days.  If you're prefer not to have meatballs for days, then cut the recipe in half.  Also, I know it's a longer recipe ingredient-wise than I normally make, but just read it through and you'll see it's pretty easy.

Pasta with Turkey Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce
adapted from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave
serves 6


for the sauce:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon finely minced canned chipotle in adobo sauce (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or a sprig of fresh)
salt to taste

for the meatballs:
cooking spray
1 pound lean ground turkey meat
1 slice whole wheat bread, pulsed into crumbs in a food processor
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup finely grated carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped onion (about 1/2 small onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 large egg
pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

for the pasta:
one 14.5 ounce box whole wheat pasta of your choice
parmesan and parsley for garnish


1.  In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, chipotle, oregano, and rosemary, and stir everything together.  Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, make the meatballs.  Preheat the broiler.  Spray the broiler pan or other baking pan with cooking spray.  Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix well (preferably with your hands).  Form approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inch balls and place them on the broiler pan.  You will have somewhere between 12 and 20 meatballs, depending on the size.  Put in the broiler for about 10 minutes, until browned and mostly cooked.

3.  While the meatballs are under the broiler, start a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

4.  Put the meatballs in the pot of sauce and cover to let them finish cooking and the sauce thicken a bit, about 10 minutes.  Cook the pasta while this is happening.  Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce and meatballs.  

5.  Serve the pasta and meatballs garnished with a little parmesan and parsley.



  1. A crowd pleaser. Congratulations on your 300th post! There are many grateful readers out here. Keep it coming ................

  2. This has to be one of my favorite Ellie recipes of all time. I need to make this again soon. Your version looks wonderful -- I love the pasta shape! Congratulations on your 300th post! Wow!