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Smart Spaghetti and Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

By: The California Walnut Commission
Smart Spaghetti and Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
This image courtesy of walnuts.org

Delight your family at dinnertime with this heart healthy spaghetti recipe from The California Walnut Commission! Smart Spaghetti and Meatballs with Tomato sauce is the hearty, healthy dinner recipe you've been looking for. Buon appetito!

Serves6 (18 meatballs, 3 per serving)

Cooking Time20 min

Ingredients

  • MEATBALLS
  • 1 cup fresh, whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Reggiano, grated
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leafed parsley leaves, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely minced or pressed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (could be less)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1 pound ground turkey, mixture of both white and dark meat
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing meatballs
  • TOMATO SAUCE
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (32 ounces) whole plum tomatoes including juice
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed basil leaves, cut into chiffonade, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees FR. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk; let sit for 10 minutes. Add the egg and mix well. Add the walnuts, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; mix well. Add turkey and using one hand, lightly mix and squeeze together, to combine well. Don't over mix or the meatballs will be tough. Form mixture, using clean hands rinsed with cold water to prevent sticking, into 18 walnut-size balls and arrange on prepared baking sheet. 

  3. Brush the meatballs with the oil, or roll them in your oiled hands and set them back on the parchment.  Bake until firm when squeezed, but before they are overly browned, 15 to 20 minutes -- they will continue cooking in the tomato sauce.

  4. While the meatballs are cooking, heat the oil for the sauce in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  5. Transfer the meatballs to the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes.  

  6. While the meatballs are cooking in the tomato sauce, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Drain well and serve hot, topped with meatballs and sauce and garnish with the basil and parsley.

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