Recipes Main Courses Pasta Rice and Grains Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6

This old-fashioned favorite of kids and adults alike gets a healthy makeover with the use of ground turkey rather than beef. Full of flavor from both fresh and dried herbs, it’s sure to become a family favorite.


  • 3 Tbs. plus 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, grated
  • 1/2 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1 lb. (500 g) ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 oz./90 g) fine fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
  • 2 cans (each 28 oz./875 g) whole plum tomatoes, preferably
      San Marzano, with juices
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 lb. (500 g) spaghetti
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving


In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot and a few pinches of salt and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

Add the ground turkey, bread crumbs, egg, sage, the 1 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. pepper to the bowl and mix gently but thoroughly with your hands. Form the mixture into 12 meatballs, each about 3 Tbs.

In the same pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the meatballs and cook until browned, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate.

Put the tomatoes and their juices in a food processor. While pulsing, slowly stream in the 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) olive oil through the feed tube until the tomatoes are pureed but still a bit chunky. Stir in the garlic and oregano and season with salt and pepper.

Pour the tomato sauce into the same pan, place over medium heat and heat until the sauce is warm. Add the meatballs, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring once or twice, until the meatballs are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. About 10 minutes before the meatballs are done, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), according to the package instructions. Drain and add the pasta to the pan with the meatballs. Using tongs, gently toss to combine.

Divide the spaghetti, meatballs and sauce among individual pasta bowls. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

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