12 March 2012

Turkey & pesto meatballs in tomato sauce

Rarely has one dish so split the audience!

So if you're looking at this blog post and thinking "ooh, my husband/son would love that!", I advise you to go carefully - as I have a suspicion it may very well be girl food.  Reason being that I absolutely loved this dish (as it stands), but hubby hated it and son & heir wasn't all that keen.  Hubby did say, though, that the flavour of the meatballs was good - it was just the wine that I'd put into the tomato sauce that he disliked intensely.  Where son & heir is concerned, I think it was the indignity of having to have vegetables instead of pasta to accompany it.

Personally, I absolutely loved it and would happily have the same again tonight.

So, I decided to blog the recipe as without the wine in the sauce and served on pasta instead of with mashed potato and vegetables (although I'd be tempted to include the carrots & broccoli in the tomato sauce, on the pasta!) I think it would have been a lot better received.

Hence, it's up to you.  Go with the wine in the recipe if that's what you like.  Serve it with mashed potato and vegetables if that's what everyone likes.  Or you can go down the pasta route, if you think the potato/veggie combo is too "out there" for your tastes.

Of all the turkey meatball recipes I've made just recently, this is by far and away the easiest.  Simply mix the minced turkey with three quarters of a grated onion and two heaped teaspoonfuls of pesto (green or red - I used green).  Mush it all together and roll some meatballs.  So long as the turkey is straight from the fridge (i.e. extremely cold), the mixture will be very soft, but will hold together if you treat the meatballs gently.

The recipe did a very good job of using up the turkey mince that I had in the freezer, plus it made a large dent in the jar of pesto.  A few pasta lunches should see off the remainder!

Oh, and incidentally, I was looking today for some inspiration where cooking turkey was concerned, and tripped over this website Lean on Turkey.  As I'm quite keen on turkey as an ingredient (I think we could all do a lot worse than to eat more of it), I thought I'd pass it on!


Ingredients :

500g minced turkey
1 onion, peeled and grated
2 heaped tsp green or red pesto
1 tbsp olive oil.

For the sauce :
1 onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, grated
2 vine ripened tomatoes, diced small
1 glass red wine (optional)
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
a large pinch of dried oregano
an even larger pinch of dried basil
half a tsp paprika
1 tsp mushroom ketchup or Worcestershire sauce
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.

Method :

1.  Take a large bowl and add the turkey, grated onion and pesto to it.  With your hands, squidge the meat together with the onion & pesto until evenly distributed.  Pinch off pieces to roll into meatballs, around the size of a walnut.  Should make 16-17 meatballs.

2.  In a frying pan, heat the olive oil until really quite hot - enough to make the meatballs sizzle as soon as they connect with the pan.  Add the meatballs and gently turn them after 30 seconds cooking.  This will "set" the outside shell of the meatball and prevent them from falling apart.

3.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue to fry the meatballs until coloured on all sides and firm to the touch.  Remove to an oven-proof dish and keep warm.

4.  Switch the oven on to pre-heat, at 180degC/350degF/Gas4.

5.  Without wiping the frying pan, add the onions to the remaining oil and cook on medium until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so.

6.  If you are opting to use the red wine, add this now and bubble it until it has reduced by around half.

7.  Add the tomatoes and cook until they are softened, then add the tomato puree,
tomato ketchup, dried oregano, dried basil, paprika and mushroom ketchup or Worcestershire sauce.  Give everything a good stir and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or so.

8.  Taste and adjust seasoning with the sea salt & black pepper.

9.  Pour the sauce over the meatballs, then add to the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until bubbling.

10.  Serve, either with mashed potato & vegetables, or with pasta & vegetables (which could be added to the sauce before serving).


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