It doesn’t take but a quick glance in my recipe archive to realize I have a thing for meatballs. Meatballs and mini things. Mini things are cuter. Mini things are fun to make and even more fun to eat. Mini things fit in cute little jars and adorable little bowls. They just always win over my foodie heart.
However, it does happen to be football season (aka appetizer season) and these little balls of glory fit the bill. You can shove them in a sub roll or in between two slice of Italian bread or just stick toothpicks in them for a fun finger-food.
These balls are gluten-free, low in fat and have a nice little kick of fiber (thanks to a couple secret ingredients). I shouldn’t even call them secret ingredients because it doesn’t take a genius to guess that I included pumpkin in this recipe. Pumpkin is its own food group in my diet right now. Literally been using it out the wazoo. No shame.
But the other special ingredient is oats! The combination of creamy pumpkin and oats made these meatballs melt-in-your-mouth moist. I also baked them instead of sautéing them in oil which seemed to hold in even more moisture and further decrease the fat content. Double win!
Speaking of fat, I wouldn’t go too lean on the turkey or you’ll sacrifice flavor and they could end up too dry. I recommend using 94% lean ground turkey.
As far as the sauce, I just used a good quality jarred tomato-basil sauce and added ~2 tbsp of half & half while it simmered. I do have a fantastic family recipe for tomato sauce but it’s high maintenance and requires an entire day of sitting on the stove while making your entire home smell like Carrabbas. It’s wonderful but not so conducive to time management.
Thus, grab the jar of sauce and call it a day 😉
..And then come live in meatball land with me.
The Best Turkey Meatballs
Makes ~24 mini meatballs; 6 servings of 4 meatballs
- 1 lb package of 94% lean ground turkey
- 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 3-4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for cooking
- Salt and pepper
- Optional sauce: good quality jarred tomato-basil sauce (add 2 tbsp half & half for a little creaminess)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for 5-6 minutes until the onions become caramely and golden brown. Add garlic, reduce heat and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine turkey, pumpkin puree, oats, egg, sage, shallot & garlic mixture, salt and pepper. Mix until combined. Avoid over mixing.
- Roll meat into small balls using ~1.5-2 tbsp of meat. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray (less mess for you to clean). Line meatballs ~1 inch apart and bake for ~20 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat sauce in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add baked meatballs and let simmer in sauce for an additional 20 minutes, slightly covered. Serve!
Nutrition facts per serving (4 meatballs, not including sauce)
Calories: 165; Total Fat: 8 gm; Saturated Fat: 1.25; Cholesterol: 80 mg; Sodium: 150 mg; Carbohydrates: 6 gm; Fiber: 1.5 gm; Sugar: <1 gm; Protein: 18 gm