Healthy recipe: Turkey meatballs with tomato sauce

This is a tasty and nutritious way to enjoy turkey after the festive season.

Turkey meatballs. Courtesy iStock
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Featuring a turkey recipe so soon after Christmas might seem a little strange. However, once minced and formed into meatballs, turkey breast tastes completely different from when it's roasted and served with cranberry sauce - and it has a whole host of health benefits.

Turkey is often neglected in favour of chicken, when really the breast meat is just as versatile and protein rich and is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol. It also contains a number of essential vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, which is needed for maintaining healthy bones and teeth, B vitamins and selenium.

By baking the meatballs on a sheet of lightly oiled baking parchment, rather than frying them in the pan, the amount of added fat is reduced and all the flavour remains in the meatballs, rather than leaching out into the sauce.

As for the small amount of sugar added to this recipe, it's just enough to take away the metallic tang that often accompanies tinned tomatoes.

Turkey meatballs with tomato sauce

Serves 2

For the meatballs

4 tbsp milk

1 small slice white bread, crusts removed

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

220g turkey mince

1 egg white

3 tbsp finely chopped parsley leaves

1 tbsp oil

For the sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 sprigs rosemary

2 sprigs thyme

1 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 tsp caster sugar

For the garnish

1 lemon, zest only

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley leaves

2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170 °C/gas 5. Pour the milk into a small bowl, add the bread and leave to soak for 10 minutes, before mixing to a paste. Add this, along with all the other meatball ingredients (apart from the oil) to a large bowl, season with salt and black pepper and mix well. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and oil lightly.

Take a tablespoon of the mixture at a time, shape into a small ball and place on the prepared baking tray. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Place a frying pan containing one tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 6-8 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Stir in the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes, before increasing the heat and pouring over the balsamic vinegar. Allow the liquid to reduce by half, then add the rosemary, thyme, tomatoes and sugar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, season with salt and black pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, add the meatballs to the pan containing the sauce and warm through. Mix together the Parmesan, parsley and lemon zest. Discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs.

Divide the mixture between two serving bowls and sprinkle the Parmesan, parsley and lemon zest mixture over the top.

Nutritional information for turkey mince, per 28g (1 oz)

Calories: 45 Calories from fat: 18 Total fat: 2.0g