Lately I have been craving the classics. Something classic. Something simple. Something comforting. Usually when you hear the term “comfort food,” you do not hear the word “healthy.” At least, I don’t. But that is where this spaghetti with turkey meatballs from Self.Com comes in! It IS possible to have a classic comfort pasta dish that is hip’n’thigh friendly.
Granted, usually when I eat pasta dishes, I eat way more than the specified portion. I probably eat like 400 calories in pasta alone. I always have kind of chalked it up to the fact that marinara sauce is relatively healthy and low-cal, so it evens out, right? Probably not. In this dish, I tried very, very hard to stick to a proper pasta portion and then doubled up on salad. It was hard. But I did it.
I will add that my meatballs turned out to be…meat mush. Actually, I’ll just say meat sauce, because meat mush sounds kinda nasty! The meatballs were way too wet, even after I added in quite a bit of bread crumbs to try to thicken them up. Then I piled all of them into my skillet, which then made them difficult to turn, so finally I just gave up and realized I was making spaghetti with turkey meat sauce. 😉
Another thing I should mention, which you probably know by now if you’ve been reading this blog for longer than five minutes, is that I don’t make homemade spaghetti sauce. I don’t think I ever have. Let’s see: spend a buck on generic spaghetti sauce or spend many bucks on several pounds of tomatos and various other ingredients…not to sound cliche, but I’m on a budget! I also don’t have tons of time on my hands to spend 45 minutes making a sauce. Granted, I know a lot of people make their sauce in bulk then freeze it, which is great, but that brings me to another issue…I don’t like tomato chunks (also not new news), so I’d have to blend it down enough…which takes even longer…and brings me back to my original statement, of just buying a can for a buck. Don’t judge me. 😉
In any case, both my husband and I *loved* this dish! I am sure it would have tasted even better if the meatballs worked out, and maybe they will for you – please let me know your secret!
Side note: I’m including the homemade sauce ingredients and instructions too. If you are a store-bought guy or gal, like me, skip those steps and go straight to the cooking!
Second side note: I know my portion looks HUGE, but I promise, I even measured it!
Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs
serves 2 + lots of leftovers
-8lbs tomatoes, cut into chunks
-1 large onion, chopped
-1/4cu plus 1.5tbsp olive oil, divided
-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
-1/2tsp red pepper flakes or 1 small dried hot pepper, chopped (optional)
-1tbsp plus 1tsp salt, preferably sea salt, divided
-2cu Italian bread, torn into bite-size pieces
-1lb lean ground turkey
-1 egg, beaten
-1/2lb whole-wheat spaghetti
-Grated Parmesan or Romano (optional)
-Heat oven to 400°.
-In a large baking dish, combine tomatoes, onion, 1/4 cup oil, garlic, pepper flakes (if desired) and 1 tbsp salt; cover; roast 45 minutes. Remove dish from oven; mash mixture to break down tomatoes. Cook, uncovered, until sauce is thick and reduced, 45 minutes.
-In a bowl, soak bread in milk until it absorbs liquid, 10 minutes; add turkey, egg and remaining 1 tsp salt; mix until just combined. Gently roll meat mixture into 16 equal-sized balls.
-In a large nonstick saucepan, heat remaining 1 1/2 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Sauté meatballs, turning occasionally, until light brown, 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce to meatballs; reduce heat; simmer until cooked through, 20 minutes.
-Cook pasta as directed on package.
-Serve sauce over pasta; top with cheese, if desired.