Cristina Ferrare’s Turkey Meatballs
I prefer using only turkey sausage for meatballs because I find that they come out lighter and tastier than beef meatballs. You don’t have to add a lot of seasonings to the mix because the meatballs get their flavor from the seasoned sausage meat! (This recipe is in my new cookbook, “Food for Thought” out on December 4.)
Prepare the sauce first and while it is simmering you can make the meatballs. After roasting the meatballs in the oven they will finish cooking in the sauce. Doing it this way will keep the meatballs light and moist.
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 28-ounce can tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus additional for sprinkling
8 ounces of your favorite Semolina flour pasta or gluten-free pasta
½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
Have all the ingredients lined up and ready to go before you start cooking.
Heat saucepan on medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add olive oil and garlic, sauté until garlic starts to turn lightly golden. Be careful not to burn the garlic or the sauce will taste bitter. If this happens, discard and start again.
Add the tomato puree, salt, water, agave, and red pepper flakes.
Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. If the sauce looks like it’s getting too thick add water 1/4 cup at a time.
You do want it to have a silky consistency. Turn off heat and set aside while you make the meatballs.
Makes 12 meatballs
6 (3 oz.) sweet turkey sausages, casings removed
½ small white onion peeled and cut into pieces
1 celery rib, cut into pieces
1 small carrot peeled, cut into chunks
1/4-cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley chopped coarsely
1 cup Panko crumbs or Gluten-free Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup cashew milk
1 small garlic clove, crushed through a garlic press or finely minced
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 egg lightly beaten
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup olive oil
Pre-heat oven to 400 F.
Place the sausages in a medium bowl. Use a food processor and add the onion, celery, carrots, and parsley. Pulse chop for 10 seconds, open lid and push down the vegetables using a spatula on the side of the bowl and process for 3 more seconds.
Add the vegetable mixture to the sausage, add Panko crumbs, Parmesan, Romano cheese, cashew milk, minced garlic, salt, egg and ketchup. Use your hands to mix everything together until all of the ingredients are combined.
Using your hands, form 12 of the 4-ounce meatballs using a 1/4 dry measuring cup to help gauge the size of the meatball. Roll each one in your hands gently to make smooth round balls. Do not pack them too tightly or they will cook up dry and not light. Line them up on a baking sheet 3” inches apart from each other. Place them into the oven, after 8 minutes turn the meatballs over and bake for another 4 minutes.
DO NOT cook them all the way through; they will finish cooking in the sauce.
Bring the sauce up to a bubbling simmer, carefully add the meatballs into the marinara sauce and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
Serve with your favorite pasta!