Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Baked Spinach Turkey Meatballs

I think I should rename these meatballs Little Balls of Heaven!

Meatballs are a very versatile food, there are so many different options how to serve them and also how to make them.  I prefer a healthier version therefore I use turkey and spinach and I bake them rather than fry them.

This recipe will make about 40-42 meatballs. Don't need that many? I suggest freezing them after baking OR cut the recipe in half (but I say freeze them and then you've done the work only once and have a future meal).  

With that said, I have a confession before we get started ... ehmm ... after we were done eating last night, I was cleaning up the kitchen and packed a few of them in a tupperware for lunch today.  Well, I woke up this morning to discover that I had left the container on the counter - way to go genius! ugh! TIP: leftovers work best if placed in the refrigerator!

No on to the Little Balls of Heaven meatballs. 
 
 
Baked Spinach Turkey Meatballs     

Ingredients
 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
16 oz frozen chopped spinach - defrosted, drained, and squeezed well to remove excess water
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup chicken broth* - click HERE for tips to store broth before it goes bad
2 1/2 lbs lean ground turkey
3/4 cup bread crumbs - click HERE for a quick way to make your own
2 large eggs
 
* if you are using the method I do, you will need 2 1/2 cubes

Instructions
 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
 
Prepare a large baking sheet by spraying with cooking spray. I actually line my baking sheet with foil and then spray with cooking spray.

Chop the onion and mince the garlic.
 
In a skillet on medium heat, heat olive oil until hot. Then add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Sauté until onion is tender (about 5-6 minutes total time). 

Add spinach to pan and combine with onion mixture. Add Worcestershire sauce and chicken broth and mix well to combine. Cook until most of the liquid has cooked out (evaporated). I don't have much liquid in my pan after I combine all these, but it will depend on how well you drained your spinach. 
 
Remove spinach mixture from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. I spread it out on a cutting sheet to cool faster. 

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, bread crumbs, and egg.
 
Add cooled onion/spinach mixture to the meat. I do all of this step with my hands with rubber gloves on, but you can use a spoon if you prefer.

With your hands, create meatballs that are about 1 - 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place them on the baking sheet. Leave a little bit of space between each meatball. 
 
Bake until your meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes. 
 
Remove from oven and serve as desired.

Here are some great ideas for serving Meatballs:

Meatball Sandwiches (cooked meatballs in a hoagie roll with a tomato based sauce and mozzarella cheese)

Served on top of pasta with pasta sauce

Covered in casserole dish with pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese; baked until hot & bubbly

Used as the main filling in calzones (wrapped in a pizza-type dough and baked)

Placed on a skewer before or after baking (fun for the kids)

Make and cook very tiny meatballs, only 1/2 inch in diameter (reduce baking temp/time as necessary) and top pizza with them

Place cooked meatballs in crockpot and simmer in favorite sauce; serve with toothpicks

Replace the chicken in your favorite soup with cooked meatballs instead (turkey meatball noodle soup, anyone?)

Slice cooked meatballs and use as filling in Italian quesadilla with mozzerella cheese in a tortilla

Make big meatballs (2-3″ diameter) bake in muffin tins; adjust cooking time as necessary

What are your favorite ways to serve meatballs?
 
Listening to: David Guetta - Memories 
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