One-Pot Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs

Yep, not one meatball in sight.

Paul loves to order spaghetti and meatballs for dinner when we’re out at an Italian restaurant on date night. So when I saw this recipe in People Magazine years ago I tore it out immediately. Thinking, “How hard could it be to make a meatball,” I went into this way to arrogantly.

Having never made a meatball before, I had no clue where to start. But I use to watch Ellie Krieger’s show on Food Network and always loved her healthy versions of classic dishes. In truth, she created a beautiful recipe and I proceeded to destroy it in every way possible.

I was able to make it through all of the directions until I had to form the meatballs. At that point, the meat mixture was way too wet to form a solid ball (believe me, I know how funny that sounds). So I asked Paul to pour in breadcrumbs so that the mixture would thicken. Eventually we kinda got to the consistency that was needed and I rolled out 12 balls (again, funny sentence taken out of context).

When I started frying them I realized I was in serious trouble. One would try to move in on the one next door, while the one next door would stick to the edge of the pot. That was only the beginning. It was a mess! After trying to separate and turn all of the balls in the pan and watching them slowly fall apart, I dove in and mashed them all up to make the starts of a funky ra’gu.

Needless to say it was not a pretty night of cooking. But in the end, the oddly interesting spaghetti dish turned out okay. We’ll be having it for left-overs tomorrow night.

One-Pot Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs (recipe care of Ellie Krieger)

INGREDIENTS: 1/3 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats, 3 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk, 1 large egg (lightly beaten), 2 tablespoons very finely minced shallot (from one shallot), 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, 4 medium-size garlic cloves (divided: 2 cloves finely minced and 2 cloves sliced), 2 oz. (about 1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (divided), 3/4 teaspoon salt (divided), 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (divided), 1 pound 90% lean ground turkey , 1/4 cup olive oil (divided), 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes, 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste, 3 1/2 cups water, 12 ounces uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti, 3 cups baby arugula

DIRECTIONS: Stir together oats and milk in a medium bowl, and let stand until liquid is absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, shallot, parsley, minced garlic, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to oats mixture; stir to combine. Add turkey, and use hands to combine, but avoid overtaxing. Form mixture into 12 balls, wetting hands if they become sticky as you work. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, wide soup pot over medium high. Add meatballs, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pot, and lower heat to medium. Stir in sliced garlic, and then add tomatoes, tomato paste, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Stir in water; bring mixture to a boil. Add pasta, pressing it down until completely submerged in liquid. Place meatballs in pot, submerging in sauce as much as possible. Lower heat to medium low, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is cooked al dente, meatballs are cooked through and sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in arugula until wilted; garnish with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.

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