I was a bad Italian growing up. I hated tomato sauce, meatballs, and sausage. I drove my mother crazy, I'm sure, with my picky eating habits. The only way I would eat her Sunday night pastas was if she let me smother the tomato sauce with ricotta or if the pasta being served was ravioli (only freshly made from Little Italy in the Bronx, of course). Now, I am happy to announce, I have taken quite the opposite attitude...kind-of. I love tomatoes now, except for ketchup, and would happily eat tomato sauce any night of the week. Meatballs and sausage are where I still diverge from the norm...I'm all about the turkey/chicken sausage and meatballs, but am not so in love with their ground beef or pork counterparts. I think it's been two years since I've eaten ground beef now and quite a few years since I've eaten pork sausage, and even though I know that I can eat anything in moderation, I just prefer the taste and texture of the poultry options more.
As I think I've mentioned before, I ordered some gourmet pasta from Pappardelle's a while ago and am still working my way through it, trying to find the perfect recipe for each flavor. This week, I knew I wanted to make the Toasted Onion and Garlic Fettuccine. I figured that a simple tomato sauce would really complement those flavors, but I also wanted to spice it up a bit in a way that wouldn't detract from the taste of the pasta. I thought that I would go ahead and try to make some meatballs that even I, the meatball hater, would like. I found a recipe for sun-dried tomato turkey meatballs on the Food and Wine website that sounded intriguing, and so I decided to give them a try. I made a few changes to the recipe...I'm pretty sure I added more sun-dried tomatoes than was called for, and I baked them instead of fried them (does that surprise you?). Even though most people complain about turkey meatballs being dry, these were actually really moist, probably because I was careful about not over-cooking them. I think I might actually try serving these to my picky family members when I go home over spring break, while I laugh silently at the fact that now I am the one complaining about their eating habits.
My roommate and a lot of people I know have been sick this week, I think because of the rapidly changing weather patterns, so everyone make sure to eat your vitamin C (tomato sauce is a great way to do it)!
Toasted Onion Fettuccine with Sun-dried Tomato Turkey Meatballs
Serves 4, adapted from Food and Wine
1 lb toasted onion fettuccine (or any fettuccine of your choice)
28 oz canned diced tomatoes
1.3 lb extra lean ground turkey
6-7 pieces of whole sun-dried tomatoes (not the oil-packed ones)
1/4 cup egg beaters or one egg
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp almond milk (or any milk)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp parsley
In a food processor, process the sun-dried tomatoes, 1 clove of garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper until finely ground. Add in the breadcrumbs and pulse so that everything gets mixed together. In a separate bowl, mix together the turkey, egg, and milk. Fold in the breadcrumb mixture with your HANDS (yes this is the fun part...it's like playing with play-doh which my mother never let me do). Preheat the oven to 400. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Shape the meat mixture into little meatballs, approximately 20. Place on the baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes.
While all of this is going on, it is probably a good idea to start boiling the water for your pasta, since in my experience this is the rate-limiting step. Once the meatballs are in the oven, heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Mince the remaining clove of garlic and add it to the pan. Saute for 30 seconds. Add in the tomatoes, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper to taste and heat through, simmering until the mix thickens a bit.
Once the pasta is done cooking, mix everything together and mangia!
I will be submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted this week by Ben of What's Cooking.