Best Baked Italian Meatballs

(adapted from an Alton Brown recipe) These meatballs are also excellent with ground lamb instead of turkey! They aren’t as good if you use all turkey or all beef. Something about the combo makes these extra tasty. Make them Gluten-free by using GF bread crumbs and Tinkyada’s GF pasta.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground dark meat turkey  (lean breast meat will make these meatballs dry)
  • 2 pounds ground beef (no leaner than 85/15)
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
  • 1 cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano or a good quality parmesan cheese (plus more for garish)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 tbsp dried basil (or Italian herb blend)
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley (or Italian herb blend)
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs, divided (plus more if needed)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, beef, spinach, ¾ cup of the cheese, egg, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs (use more if mixture is really wet). Using your hands, mix all ingredients until well incorporated. Use immediately or place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs into a small bowl. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds, roll in the bread crumbs and place the meatballs in individual, miniature muffin tin cups. (a regular baking sheet works well also) Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

This makes around 60-70 small meatballs. I suggest using the entire recipe even if you don’t think you will need this many meatballs, as they can be frozen before or after you have cooked and cooled them. Store frozen in a gallon size freezer bag and cook frozen balls at 350 until heated through, or are golden in color. Serve with 1 lb. of spaghetti and olive oil sauce:

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper and kosher salt to taste (may also add fresh herbs and/or red pepper flakes)

Directions

  1. Cook pasta al dente; reserving 1 cup of starchy cooking liquid.
  2. Put the olive oil and the garlic in a large skillet over a medium heat.
  3. When the garlic begins to change color add the fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, and salt
  4. Stir well and remove from heat.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, return the skillet to a low heat.
  6. Drain the pasta and add it and 1/2 cup of cooking liquid to the skillet with the oil.
  7. Toss until the pasta is well coated with sauce. (Use more lcooking liquid if needed)
  8. Serve at once with freshly grated parmesan cheese. (and in this case the meatballs!)
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