Meatballs can be moist AND healthy!? Well. Sorta.
These aren’t like….. super duper going to lose a bazillion pounds healthy. But they are, you know, on the healthier side……
They are also mini so your eyes will make you feel like you’re eating a ton more as oppose to one and feeling lonely.
I’m about to start a “healthier Julia in 3o days” thang, which I”ll be posting about this weekend…. or maybe Monday. Depending on how crazy I get this weekend. Kidding. I don’t really get crazy. I have a break for the next six weeks before the festivities start right back up with the holiday season and I would like to be able to pull of a cable knit sweater and not have anyone ask me if I’m carrying a child. Kidding. Cable knit will always make you appear that way. At least for me. If you aren’t one of those people. Go to hell 😉
So this is where the healthier meatball inspiration came from. I also just love the crap out of meatballs. I really do. My son also LOVES them so two birds one stone (skip the red pepper and add black pepper instead if you have kiddos, you don’t have to, just a suggestion).
These bad boys can also be made in under 30 minutes (at least the first 15, depending on how many you make and how big your pan is it might take you a little longer).
Another great thing is that these are a really tasty “game day” appetizer! Or any party appetizer. Just throw three or four mini meatballs on a skewer and now you’ve got Meat Kebobs. Or Meat pops. Mops. Mebobs.
I substituted my usual pound of beef for ground turkey however kept my two pounds of sweet italian sausage to really enhance the flavor and still give it that moist texture. Instead of white bread I used only about a half cup of panko crumbs with only a third cup of a milk as I wanted to go lighter on these meat balls and felt the texture of the sausage would hold the meatball together really well. I skipped on the egg and just added the spices and was really pleased with my results. The tomato sauce was very basic only having four ingredients because I wanted the meatballs to stand out and not be overpowered by the sauce. They just needed a light coating. After cooking the meatballs I put three or four on a skewer for easy serving and portion control.
*I also made sure to add substitutions in the ingredients/instructions below if you are on a Paleo or Gluten Free diet.
- For the Meatballs
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 2 lb sweet italian sausage, casings removed
- ½ cup panko crumbs (may substitute almond meal for paleo/gluten free)
- ⅓ low fat milk (substitute egg yolk instead)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (may substitute black pepper)
- 2 tsp italian seasoning (Or you may do a ½ tsp of each - oregano, parsley, basil, thyme & ¼ tsp rosemary)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- For the Sauce
- 28 oz can tomato sauce (plain, nothing added, just tomatoes already pureed)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp brown sugar (may substitute honey)
- 4 tbsp fresh basil, chopped.
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Wooden Skewers (optional)
- First soak your panko crumbs in your milk for about ten minutes (if paleo mix almond meal with egg yolk).
- Next in a large bowl add your ground turkey, sausage, and spices. Add your panko/milk mixture. Mix with hands until combined (don't over do it here).
- Grabbing about a tbsp worth of meat, shape meat into balls. Repeat until all of meat is used. This recipe produces about 50 small meatballs.
- In a large pan add two tbsp of olive oil. Heat over medium high and then add your meatballs enough to cover bottom of pan but not over crowd. I was able to fit about 15 at a time. Brown all sides for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate. This will help soak up some of that fat/oil. Repeat this step until all of the meatballs are browned on all sides.
- Remove about ¾ of the oil that is left in the pan and then place pan back over heat, lowering it to simmer.
- Add your tomato sauce, paste and brown sugar. Let heat up for about a minute. Add your fresh basil and then salt & pepper to taste.
- Next add your meatballs, again about 15 at a time and cover them with sauce. Allow to finish cooking about 5-10 minutes. Remove one meatball to check to see if they are done. Repeat this step until all meatballs are covered in sauce and have finished cooking.
- When all meatballs are done, place about 3-4 on a skewer (optional) and they are ready to serve!