Meatball Blitz

Dinner ven diagramDo you have trouble finding the dinner “sweet spot”? Are you torn between healthy and delicious, gluten-free and family-friendly, all while trying to get dinner on the table after a long day of work, school and extra-curriculars? Me, too! One of our favorite meals has solved that problem: meatballs with tomato sauce, buckwheat noodles and oven-roasted broccoli. Tasty, kid-friendly, quick to the table and rich in iron, vitamin C, B vitamins and fiber. Perfect for a weeknight or any night!

Let’s start with the meatballs. My favorite recipe uses dark ground turkey, which is a super lean, iron-rich meat.  Lean meats need extra flavor: I use chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, sage and basil. For a little extra flavor boost, I add minced shallots when gently mixing the meat and herbs together. And instead of frying them, microwave them for 2 minutes and then finish cooking them in the quick homemade tomato sauce.

Meatballs!Meatballs go great with noodles: use buckwheat noodles instead of rice or corn to up the fiber. Buckwheat is “mis-named” – it isn’t wheat at all! It is high in fiber, B vitamins and iron, though, all important nutrients in a gluten-free diet.

Finally, I love oven-roasted broccoli. You get great flavor with a minimum of oil and with a squeeze of lemon before serving, a great boost of vitamin C. Did you know your body better absorbs iron and vitamin C when you eat them in the same meal?

Bon appetite!

Turkey Meatballs with Tomato Sauce & Noodles
Serves 4 (makes 18-20 1-inch meatballs)

Ingredients

  • Meatballs!-21 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 26 oz diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 4 large basil leaves, minced
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, minced
  • 1 pound ground dark turkey
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 bag buckwheat noodles (I like Orgran, available at Whole Foods)

Directions

  1. Tomato Sauce: place medium Dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil. When oil is warm, add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until garlic sizzles, 3-5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and bring to simmer.
  2. Meatballs: Combine shallot, minced herbs, turkey, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Gently mix until just combined. Using wet hands, make 1-inch meatballs. Place 8-10 meatballs on a large plate and microwave for 2 minutes. Remove meatballs from plate, add to tomato sauce and cover sauce. Drain grease from plate and repeat with remaining turkey mixture.
  3. Noodles: bring large pot of water to boil. Follow directions on package – buckwheat noodles often need to be rinsed after cooking to prevent them from sticking. After rinsing, add teaspoon of olive oil and toss noodles.
  4. Simmer meatballs in sauce for 20 minutes. Remove meatballs to serving bowl and keep warm while you puree tomato sauce, either using an immersion blender or in a blender – be careful transferring, the sauce will be hot. Taste sauce for seasoning.
  5. Serve over buckwheat noodles and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.

Oven-Roasted Broccoli with Lemon
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound broccoli, trimmed into small florets
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Lemon wedge

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place broccoli florets in oven-safe pan or baking sheet. Drizzle oil over broccoli. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Roast broccoli for 15 minutes. Stir and roast for 5 more minutes.
  4. Squeeze lemon wedge over broccoli and serve.

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