Meatballs are one of those things, when done right, I find so satisfying. I’m not a huge meatloaf person and I only eat burgers every once in a while, but something about meatballs makes them super appealing to me. They make a great meal and there are endless varieties to how you can prepare them. Some of my favorites include sweet and sour meatballs, which are made with grape jelly and chili sauce (sounds crazy but it works) and, of course, traditional Italian-style meatballs. My dad makes some of the best beef meatballs I’ve ever had, accompanied by his famous tomato sauce. I have yet to get the recipe from him…
Since becoming interested in eating healthier a couple of years ago, I’ve made the switch from ground beef to ground turkey. Growing up, we always had beef for our burgers and tacos, but I’ve come to prefer ground turkey because it’s not as heavy and still loaded with protein. I certainly enjoy beef every now and then, but I’m really more of a white meat-kinda girl.
After making many different meatball recipes, some successful and some not so much, I’ve discovered a few methods to make them delicious each time. One of the most important tips I can give is to make sure you stick to an appropriate ratio of ingredients. If you use too much or too little of one ingredient, your meatballs may come out dry and crumbly or a pile of mush. The ratio I typically follow for every one pound of ground meat is 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and 1 egg. It’s also important to measure your spices and/or herbs, since you can’t taste the meat before you cook it. And a method I personally like to use to keep meatballs moist is to add veggies, cheese, or both!
These meatballs were inspired by two recipes. One is a turkey meatball recipe my roommate Emily would make a couple of years ago, which is still one of my favorites to this day. Her version includes veggies like spinach, red pepper, and mushroom and were so flavorful. The other recipe is these Turkey Ricotta Meatballs from CenterCutCook, which use ricotta cheese to help keep the meatballs moist. More or less, I combined these two recipes and came up with the clever name Ricotta Vegetable Turkey Meatballs… ha ha.
Ricotta Vegetable Turkey Meatballs
makes 20 meatballs or 4-5 servings
- 1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
- 1/4 cup finely diced onions
- 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
- 1 large handful of fresh spinach, shredded
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup parmesan and/or mozzerella cheese
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp dried oregano
- In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly, either using a large spoon or your hands until all is well-incorporated.
- Optional: For a more flavorful meatball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. If you choose to skip this step, preheat your oven to 375ºF.
- Use your hands to roll the meat into about 18-20 meatballs, or around 1.5 tablespoons each. Mine made exactly 20. Place the meatballs on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they are cooked throughout. Let cool slightly and serve with your choice of pasta, or on a sub roll with marinara sauce and enjoy!