Spaghetti with Turkey-Pesto Meatballs

What could be more gratifying that spaghetti and meatballs? This fast and simple version relies on store-bought pesto and pasta sauce. Although I often enjoy making my own, there are plenty of high-quality options available for when I’m not quite up to starting from scratch. Fresh pesto can usually be found in the deli section of the grocery store. As for sauce, I prefer to buy a simple basil marinara and add my own vegetables to make it heartier, healthier, and a little more home-made.

pre-cooked meatballs

pre-cooked meatballs

The tricky thing about meatballs for me is the texture. Typically breadcrumbs and egg hold them together, and this recipe is no exception. I toasted some New Cascadia seeded bread and cut it into tiny cubes to make the breadcrumbs. Flax-eggs worked perfectly as an egg substitute, and I used the equivalent of one whole egg (per 8 meatballs) since I had all white-meat ground turkey, which can get a little dry. The pesto added some rich flavor and kept the meatballs moist. Next time I might add some extra garlic or red pepper flakes, just to spice them up a bit.

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I sautéed some onions, garlic, minced carrot, and sliced zucchini in olive oil over medium-low heat to start a base for the sauce. Then I added 14 oz. tomato puree with some salt, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and fennel seed. After nestling the meatballs in my simmering sauce, I poured a jar of basil marinara on top. (Note: this amount of sauce was for a doubled recipe of meatballs.) During the 20 minutes the meatballs were cooking I was able to cook the pasta to al-dente perfection. Even with my extra fussing about the sauce, this meal was ready in less than 45 minutes! Four meatballs per person was a hearty serving, but I finished my entire bowl.

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Spaghetti with Turkey-Pesto Meatballs

Bon Appétit            March 1999

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