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Turkey Meatballs with Spinach or Zucchini

These easy turkey meatballs are packed with flavor and have a nice amount of spinach or zucchini in them to boot. Serve them over your favorite pasta, with mashed potatoes, or enjoy them on their own!

Turkey meatballs in a dutch oven with pasta sauce

In my family I’m known for adding vegetables – particularly spinach and zucchini – to almost everything I cook. This is especially true during the warmer months, when the garden is bursting with fresh produce. In fact, there is a point every year when the question is not “What do you want for dinner?” but rather, “How do you want your zucchini for dinner?” And of course, there will be a spinach salad on the side.

These turkey meatballs are one of my favorite ways to cook use spinach and zucchini for dinner. I generally use one or the other, but you could definitely use both if you used about 1 cup of spinach and 1 zucchini. It takes about 20 minutes to cook the veggies and assemble the meatballs. Then you give them a quick fry and they finish cooking in a pot with your favorite pasta sauce.

The classic way to serve these is, of course, over pasta noodles (any kind will do). I’m also a big fan of spooning these meatballs over mashed potatoes, creamy polenta, or stuffing them into buns to make meatball sandwiches. And then there is the simplest way possible: just eat them on their own with a fork. (Or a toothpick if you want to feel fancy.)

Can I Bake these Turkey Meatballs?

If you would prefer not to finish cooking the meatballs in pasta sauce, you can instead bake them in the oven. I usually still give them a quick cook on the stovetop just because I like the crisp exterior this gives to the meatballs.

So, to make baked turkey meatballs follow the recipe below up until you add the meatballs to pasta sauce. Instead doing this, place the browned meatballs on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper, then bake at 375F for 15-18 minutes. The meatballs are done when they register 165F with an instant read thermometer. You can also check them for doneness by cutting one meatball in half and confirming the inside is cooked through.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

This recipe makes a nice number of meatballs, so unless you have a large family odds are you’ll have leftovers. Let them come to room temperature, then place the meatballs in an airtight container and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.

You can also freeze these in freezer-safe containers for up to 6 months. Make sure you leave enough head space in the container to allow for the liquid in the sauce to expand when it freezes.

When you’re ready to eat the meatballs, allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge if frozen. Then spoon the amount you want to eat into a bowl, cover with a plate, and reheat in the microwave. Or, spoon your desired amount into a pot and reheat on the stovetop until warmed through.

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Turkey Meatballs with Spinach or Zucchini

These easy turkey meatballs are packed with flavor and have a nice amount of spinach or zucchini in them to boot. 

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 1518 meatballs 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped OR 1 zucchini, shredded or finely chopped
  • 1 ½ lbs ground turkey
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup seasoned Panko crumbs
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp plus a pinch of kosher salt
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Pepper to taste (about ¼ tsp)
  • 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I like Newman’s Own “Common Good” Marinara Sauce)

 

Instructions

In a large skillet or pan, heat 2 tsp of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and chopped spinach or shredded zucchini. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup of water plus a pinch of kosher salt and a pinch of pepper. Continue cooking until liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl combine the ground turkey with the cheese, Panko, onion, eggs, ½ tsp salt, oregano, basil and pepper. Mix with your hands until everything is combined. Add in the cooled spinach/zucchini and mix in until well combined. Let the mixture rest for 2-3 minutes so that the Panko can absorb some of the moisture. When you grab a small handful of the mixture and press it together in the palm of your hand, it should not be liquidy and should hold its shape. 

Shape the meat mixture into balls with about 2 tablespoons of mixture per meatball. You can do smaller or slightly larger, but not not too much bigger.

Wipe down the skillet you used to cook the spinach/zucchini. Add 1 tbs olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the turkey meatballs one at a time, being careful not to toss them into the pan. You want to add them gently, both to prevent the oil from splattering and to make sure they hold their shape. Add enough meatballs to cover the pan in one layer. You may need to cook these in batches.

Cook the meatballs 2-3 minutes, then once they are lightly browned turn them over onto the other side with tongs. Continue until they are light brown on all sides. Remove to a plate and cook the next batch if working in batches.

Once all of the meatballs, remove them from the pan. Add a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce along with ¼ cup of water. Mix it together well, then add the meatballs to the sauce. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, simmering the entire time.

Serve over generous helpings of pasta topped with more Parmesan cheese. You can also serve these in bread rolls, over mashed potatoes, or eat them on their own!

Notes

Allow to come to room temperature, then store in an air tight container in the fridge. These meatballs will keep for 3-4 days. Reheat in a covered bowl in the microwave, or on the stove top (my preferred method).

Keywords: easy turkey meatballs, healthy turkey meatballs

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