Spinach and Cheese Turkey Meatballs
Yields: about 20-22 meatballs Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 30 min
These meatballs are a great dish to pair with noodles, on a sandwich, or just to eat by themselves! Rich with iron and nutrients from turkey and spinach, these are perfect for all! A bit of cheese and (gluten free) breadcrumbs add just the right amount of moisture and depth to round out this tasty meal.
1 pound ground turkey (preferably thigh meat)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon garlic glove, finely chopped or minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 medium slices whole grain or gluten free bread, toasted (or 1 cup prepared bread crumbs, then skip step 4)*
1/2 cup chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
1 cup good quality grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place frozen spinach in a colander and run water over it to slightly soften. Let sit for a few minutes while the turkey is mixed with the other ingredients.
3. In a separate bowl, combine ground turkey, egg, olive oil, basil, oregano, onion powder, salt, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste in a bowl. Mix well.
*4. Place toasted bread in a food processor and pulse until it becomes breadcrumbs (about 1 minute). Place in meat mixture.
5. Place spinach and Parmesan cheese in a food processor and pulse until combined (about 30 seconds to a minute).
5. Pour spinach and cheese mixture into turkey mixture, and combine.
6. Take about 1 1/2 tablespoon of turkey mixture in hand, and roll into a ball. Place on a parchment paper or silicone lined baking pan.
7. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12-15 minutes, until thoroughly cooked.
These meatballs are an excellent ‘go to’ for a ground turkey recipe. They are the perfect balance of moisture and seasoning, without one flavor overpowering the rest, and are likely to please all palates.
I would really recommend going to a local butcher or getting freshly ground, high quality turkey thigh meat to ensure best flavor. I had all three kiddos begging for their own “sample” before our accompanying noodles were even done.
The spinach and cheese add a little moisture and depth in flavor. The toasted breadcrumbs ensure the meatballs maintain the optimal texture. We have meat issues in our house when it comes to texture (me, included!) and my picky one usually requires ketchup with any meat that even gets to her plate. I am not saying meat is the answer to all, but I always keep the protein and iron count in the back of my head to make sure we are hitting an appropriate amount for each kiddo. This dish helps meet both iron and protein requirements, as well as any texture issues that arise at the table as well.
The cool thing about turkey is it does have a decent amount of the amino acid tryptophan that can convert to serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps keep mood levels stable. Decreased serotonin levels have also been linked to depression, anxiety and mood disorders, so it is an important nutrient. Vitamin B6 is also important, as it helps in the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin. Source
Another note to the recipe regarding the breadcrumbs is you really can interchange gluten free breadcrumbs with regular breadcrumbs. I have made this both ways with the same recipe. I don’t often stock breadcrumb on hand, because it’s one of those things I feel I can easily make myself. I just save the ends of loaves of breads (gluten free or not) in the freezer. When I’m ready to make, I simply toast on high and then place in the food processor. I end up freezing any leftovers, or just schedule a pasta bake the next day that could use a little extra crispiness from breadcrumbs!
*This post was originally published at an earlier date, but has since been updated and republished.