I have had a major craving for my new favorite turkey meatballs lately (notice that everything is my “new favorite?”).  Maybe it has to do with the change in weather, and the fact that just about everyone loves meatballs.  Unless you are not a meateater, and then do you love fauxmeatballs?  I probably would.

Two of my favorite cookbooks happen to be by Giada DeLaurentis (“Everyday Italian” and “Giada’s Family Dinners”), and to be quite honest, I can’t remember which one this recipe comes from…I want to say “Everyday Italian.”  It’s a healthier take on your classic meatballs (and I’m not Italian, I’m half Polish, so I can make them however I want to), as it uses ground turkey instead of the traditional veal, pork, and beef.  But they’re still fried, so that’s not so healthy.  Who’s counting anyway?

I decided that while making meatballs, I was going to make the sauce as well.  And it couldn’t be easier, and it’s got to be better for you than the stuff you buy in the store.  And my dutch oven was just calling out to me “I’m perfect for making pasta sauce!”, so who could resist?

So let’s start with the sauce.

Marinara Sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme

In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, and sautee until translucent, about 5 – 10 minutes.  Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes, bay leaves, and dried herbs.  Simmer on low for about 1 hour, and I cheated and covered it, since tomato sauce has a tendency to splatter when simmering.

Remove bay leaves and check seasoning.  You can use a regular blender, or an immersion blender to make the sauce nice and smooth.  I then transferred it to another burner to keep on low, so that it was nice and warm while the meatballs were cooking.

Turkey Meatballs

1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup grated Romano
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 pound ground turkey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 cups marinara sauce
1 lb. your favorite pasta (I used whole wheat)

In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, milk, eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.  Mix together well.  Add in turkey, and combine using hands, but do not overmix.

Shape into golf size balls for mini-meatballs.

In a large skillet, heat oil until almost smoking.  In batches, add in the meatballs, and cook for about 3 minutes per side, taking care to brown them, and handle them carefully.  They will be softer than normal meatballs.  Transfer to the pot of sauce as they are finished browning, and add more to the pan of oil.

Prepare your pasta according to box instructions, and serve meatballs over the pasta with sauce, and garnish with cheese.

I’m working on getting my husband to write about his latest adventures in homemade bread making, so I can tell you about the delicious garlic toast we had with the meal.  And yes, that is cesar salad in a bag.  I’m in love with the stuff.