No. 291: Quick Turkey Meatballs Over Greens

We're down to the wire with these little twins. In a month or so we'll be welcoming them home. Kind of crazy!

And there are quite a few to-dos ...

Mr. McC is on me to pack the hospital bag, and he's not wrong. With twins they could tell me to get to the hospital any day now (though we're crossing our fingers we at least get to May 5th).

I also need to take some time to tinker and figure out how to actually use the stroller. I know what it does in theory, but execution of any real maneuvers could be rough.

We're also trying to get a few more home items checked off. Like installing ceiling fans in all the bedrooms.

We'll get it all done. Or we won't. I'm kind of ok with that latter statement these days:)

Quick Turkey Meatballs Over Greens

Many have told me it's important to have a few meals in the freezer ready to go in the first couple of weeks. Nutrition is going to be crucial for mama and babies, so healthy and filling meals will be a must. Plus, I don't want Mr. McC to be overwhelmed by cooking on top of everything else we have to manage.

So get excited, readers. There are going to be quite a few freezer friendly meals coming in the next couple of weeks.

This recipe looked easy for a Monday night and a cinch for doubling so I could freeze half the meatballs and sauce.


Serves 4
1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup grated or finely diced onion, from 1/2 small to medium onion
1 large egg
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 whole cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups tomato sauce, homemade or store-bought
2 pounds greens, such as broccoli rabe, kale, mustard greens, washed, de-veined, and roughly chopped*
Shaved Parmesan, to serve, optional

*I had a bunch of baby spinach on hand, so just wilted 3 or so cups of that

To make

Combine the turkey, onion, egg, breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley in a large bowl. Mix with your hands until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Roll the meat mixture into 1 1/4-inch meatballs and place on a tray or in a pan. You should have between 26 and 30 meatballs.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or sauté pan. Place the meatballs in the hot skillet and brown for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Use tongs to gently rotate the meatballs so they brown evenly. (If your pan isn't large enough to brown all of the meatballs without them touching, cook them in batches and place them back on the cookie sheet once they've been browned. Then combine them back in the pan before simmering with the tomato sauce.)

Reduce the heat to medium, add the tomato sauce, and cover the pan. Simmer the meatballs and sauce for another 10 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.

While the meatballs are simmering, sauté or stir-fry the greens in a hot skillet with oil until tender and a bit wilted.


Wilted greens

To serve, put greens on the plate and top with meatballs and sauce.

Resolved Cook Note: When you don't feel like browning meatballs and splattering oil everywhere, bake them on a cookie sheet under the broiler for 20-30 minutes. If you are intimidated by the word 'broil' then throw them in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or so, until cooked through.


Additional Recipe Notes from The Kitchn

  • To prevent the meatballs sticking to the pan, make sure it is hot before adding the meatballs, and brown thoroughly before trying to turn them. They should release easily once browned. Also, using 85% lean turkey (as opposed to completely lean) should help the meatballs release more cleanly.
  • Store the meatballs in their sauce for up to 3 days in the fridge.
  • Freeze cooked meatballs and sauce for up to 3 months.

The results

These meatballs are perfunctory. They aren't fancy, but they are simple and effective. I like that about them.

What really changes this recipe up is the bed of greens on which these meatballs rest. I loved the effect of the warm, wilted (slightly charred in a few spots which made it even better) spinach with just a bit of sauce.

Final bowl

As you could see, there were plenty of meatballs leftover for me to freeze. I had a whole pan of sauce as well. Here's to the first of many 'later' meals!

Check out a full index of recipes here
Send me your thoughts, comments and ideas at

Amelia McCormick

Kansas girl transplanted to Asheville, North Carolina. Smiler, lover of great food and wine, facilitator, runner, storyteller, wife, optimist, and mother of sweet twins:)

Asheville, North Carolina