Turkey Meatballs in Tomato and Eggplant Sauce

Soft and juicy turkey meatballs, in thick tomato sauce with carrots and eggplant, is an easy dish cooked in one pot. These are not traditional meatballs, or traditional pasta sauce. There are no added grains, starches or even gluten free bread crumbs as a binding agent in meatballs. There are no added fats to a turkey mince, which is very low in fat, and therefore gives very dry cooked meat. The softness and juiciness of turkey meatballs is provided by sautéed onion/leek with cabbage/cauliflower. Any combination of the above ingredients works well in this recipe. Plenty of vegetables in the sauce give an extra depth of flavour to the dish and eliminate any need to use chicken or any other stock to make flavoursome sauce.

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Turkey meatballs can be served with any gluten free pasta, or steamed vegetables for a meal, lighter in carbs. They are perfect with zucchini noodles.

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But I, personally, like to mix zucchini and pasta together, to get the best of both products.

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Sometimes I serve these dish with potato and sweet potato mash, which makes it even more interesting.

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To make this dish in dairy free version you have to replace butter with coconut oil in the recipe, making it acceptable in paleo protocol.

Ingredients:

 meatballs

  • 500g turkey mince (from white or dark meat)
  • 1 large onion (or leek)
  • 1/2 small cabbage or 1/3 of medium one (1/2 small cauliflower head)
  • 1 table spoon olive oil
  • 1 table spoon butter/coconut oil for dairy free version
  • pinch of fennel seeds
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tea spoons of garlic and chilli paste (can be replaced by pinch of hot dry chilli powder/flakes
  • 1 tea spoon cumin powder
  • 1 tea spoon Moroccan spice mix (make sure it is gluten free)
  • sea salt and black pepper for seasoning

sauce

  • 400g can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 5-6 carrots
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 table spoon olive oil
  • 1 table spoon butter/coconut oil for dairy free version
  • 1 table spoon of spice mix of your choice, I add my own garlic and chilli paste (optional)
  • water

Preparation:

  • heat olive oil and butter in a deep pan
  • add fennel seeds
  • add sliced onion/leek and lightly fry it on a low heat, until it starts to go translucent, season with salt at the beginning
  • add finely sliced cabbage, use mandoline slicer on minimum thickness available (or alternatively use cauliflower “rice”)
  • when using cauliflower in the recipe, make cauliflower rice in a food processor
  • cook on low heat until cabbage/cauliflower becomes soft, let vegetables cool a bit in the pan
  • place turkey mince, an egg, sautéed vegetables, spices in a bowl, add salt and pepper
  • when adding vegetables use all the juices from the pan
  • mix all ingredients well, the mixture will be soft, but easily handled with wet hands
  • heat olive oil and butter in a wide and deep casserole pan
  • lightly fry sliced onion, season with salt
  • add grated carrots, cook on medium heat 3-5 min
  • add diced tomatoes and water
  • add chopped and sliced (quartered first) eggplant
  • cook until boiling point
  • when the sauce start boiling, form meatballs and carefully drop them one after another into the sauce, do not mix the sauce or touch meatballs until they firmed while cooking

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  • cook for 1 hour on medium to low heat, add water at the beginning to cover fully meatballs and vegetables, add seasoning
  • in the middle of cooking check the seasoning and add salt if necessary
  • serve with pasta or any other side dish of your choice

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Turkey meatballs in vegetable sauce can be refrigerated for up to a week and can be frozen for a longer storage. The dish only benefits from reheating.

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