Home » Chicken » Ground Turkey and Pork Meatballs with Zucchini

Ground Turkey and Pork Meatballs with Zucchini

Turkey and Pork Meatballs with Zucchini

Turkey and Pork Meatballs with Zucchini

We’re huge fans of meatballs here and I’ve posted quite a few variations. My latest post is going to be a version of zucchini meatballs, of course. I’ve been slipping zucchini into all kinds of foods and I wondered if the shredded zucchini would add a nice moisture to meatballs. It would add more vegetables to our diets, and that’s always worth the effort.

Start with a pound of ground turkey and a pound of freshly ground pork

Start with a pound of ground turkey and a pound of freshly ground pork

I mixed the ground turkey and pork with the zucchini, an egg, some panko and seasonings in a large bowl. I used my hands, it being fastest and the best way to get the spices fully mixed throughout the meat.  You could use a pork sausage that is already seasoned in this but I prefer to add my own seasonings so I use freshly ground pork.

Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and dig right in with your hands. It's the best way to do it and you can work out some stress as a bonus

Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and dig right in with your hands. It’s the best way to do it and you can work out some stress as a bonus

I usually use ricotta for that extra moistness and for a creamy cheesy burst of flavor in meatballs. Zucchini might be a lighter and definitely lower calorie way to moisten up some meatballs, I hoped. Zucchini wouldn’t add much to the flavor profile but that’s what seasonings are for!

Mix until well blended with a light touch. We don't want all of the air pressed out so that they are hard little rocks when cooked.

Mix until well blended with a light touch. We don’t want all of the air pressed out so that they are hard little rocks when cooked.

I used a large cookie scoop to scoop meatballs out and onto a plate.  It’s quick and gets them fairly uniform in size.  It’s the OC in me.

Scoop onto a platter or pan in a uniform size for even cooking

Scoop onto a platter or pan in a uniform size for even cooking

Next I rolled them in my hands as I dipped the meatballs into the flour.  They ended up nice and round and coated.

Roll in seasoned flour to coat

Roll in seasoned flour to coat

When I had all of the meat made into balls I dredged them in flour I’d seasoned with salt and pepper.  The flour helps them to brown faster and helps to thicken the marinara sauce later.

Brown on two sides in a drizzle of oil in a nonstick skillet

Brown on two sides in a drizzle of oil in a nonstick skillet

In a large nonstick skillet I heated 1/2″ of canola oil and sautéed the meatballs in batches until they were caramelized and brown on two or three sides. I don’t worry if they’re not cooked through, they finish baking in the oven.  As each batch was done I moved them into an ovenproof dish.  I baked the meatballs for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F to cook them through.

While the meatballs bake make the marinara sauce

While the meatballs bake make the marinara sauce

While the meatballs baked I made my marinara sauce and started the water for my angel hair pasta.

When the meatballs were baked, I added half of them to the marinara sauce to marry the flavors as I waited for the pasta to finish cooking to al dente.

Add half of the meatballs to the marinara and cook for several minutes to marry the flavors

Add half of the meatballs to the marinara and cook for several minutes to marry the flavors

The pasta drained, reserving a cup of pasta water in case I needed to hydrate the pasta a little more, I tossed the pasta with the meatballs and marinara sauce. The pasta soaked up some of the marinara sauce and didn’t need any pasta water this time.

Toss pasta with the meatballs and sauce, allowing it to cook a few minutes to absorb the sauce. Add pasta water if it becomes too dry

Toss pasta with the meatballs and sauce, allowing it to cook a few minutes to absorb the sauce. Add pasta water if it becomes too dry

I served up the pasta and meatballs with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan and dinner was served.

We loved the zucchini meatballs! They were lighter than the ones I usually make with ricotta but still had all of our favorite flavors. To make it an even lighter meal, I’d like to make it with spaghetti squash sometime. That would also be a good meal if you have family that needs to be gluten free.

Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan

Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan

Turkey and Pork Meatballs with Zucchini

Meatballs:
1 lb ground turkey
1 lb ground pork
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 egg
1/2 cup panko
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon crushed fennel seed (I use a ceramic mortar and pestle)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

Marinara:
28 ounces diced tomatoes
2 ounces tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 small box angel hair pasta (or spaghetti squash for a gf alternative)
Shredded Parmesan for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the meatball ingredients together well (with your hands works best).  Scoop into meatballs with a spoon or a cookie scoop.  My cookie scoop made about 28 meatballs.

Roll meatballs into flour to coat.  Fry in a large nonstick skillet with 1/2″ of canola oil until browned on two sides.  Roll over carefully, they are soft meatballs.

Place meatballs in an ovenproof dish and bake for 30 minutes.

In the same skillet, add 28 ounces of diced tomatoes and 1/2 small can of tomato paste.  Stir in garlic, basil, oregano and sugar.  Simmer on medium low heat for 30 minutes.

Remove meatballs from oven and place half of them into the marinara sauce.

Prepare 1/2 box angel hair pasta to al dente, then drain and reserve 2 cups of pasta water.  Toss pasta with marinara and meatballs, adding pasta water if necessary.

Serve spaghetti garnished with shredded Parmesan

Freeze remaining meatballs in zippered bags.

Serves 2 + meatballs for a second mealTiara Logo

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