Friday, December 9, 2011

Spaghetti with turkey-pesto meatballs

This recipe is another favorite in my house. They're lighter than your average meatball, but the bread crumbs and pesto keep them extremely moist. It comes together very quickly, especially with the aid of a quality store-bought marinara. Of course you could use store-bought pesto as well, but I just don't like it as much as my own. I realize this is essentially admitting I make a crappy marinara... we all have flaws.

The other really great thing about this recipe is that it serves four and freezes beautifully, so I always make a full batch as written below and freeze half in a Ziploc, sauce and all. Simply defrost and reheat in a saucepan and dinner's almost ready on another night.

The original recipe (Bon Appetit, March 1999) has you plunk the raw meatballs right into the sauce, but I think that makes them too soft. I've found that a quick stint in the oven helps them stay together much better.  For some variety, these meatballs are also great with lovely fresh crusty bread instead of pasta. I served with sliced cucumbers and a drizzle of vinaigrette.

1.25 lb lean ground turkey
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup pesto
1 cup bread crumbs

1 large jar marinara (about 3 cups)

~ 4 oz spaghetti (~8 oz if you are serving 4 people)

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, egg, pesto, and bread crumbs with a big pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Form them into even-sized balls and place onto a foil-wrapped baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil (so you can just toss the foil for easy cleanup). I get about 14 big meatballs from one recipe, which is perfect - that's two dinners of 4 meatballs for him, 3 for me. Pop them into the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook your spaghetti, prepare your little sliced cucumber salads, and begin to heat your marinara in a large heavy pot.

When 20 minutes has elapsed, pull the meatballs out of the oven and plop them into the marinara. Allow to simmer together for another 20 minutes or so.

Serves 4 (or 2 twice), takes under an hour.


  1. Looks delicious. Would love for you to share this with us over at

  2. Love the sound of this pasta recipe. A big fan of pesto :)