As the name suggests, this is no substitute for the kind of meatballs simmered for hours in your nonna’s Sunday gravy. Strangely enough, the recipe doesn’t even include oregano or basil or a dry Chianti. And yet, I think this is a meal you’ll be happy to produce on a weeknight or any time you are craving tomato-y comfort food.
The meatball mixture is basic but does the trick: ground turkey, parsley, garlic and panko, plus salt and pepper. The meatballs brown in a skillet and finish cooking in the sauce, which is even simpler — canned tomatoes, pureed in a blender. When you drain the pasta, save a little of its cooking water; it contains some starch that will help bind the sauce and spaghetti together. (If you want to geek on this, check out the experimentation at SeriousEats.com.) Add the cooked pasta and a splash of water to that pot of sauce and meatballs, then let it cook for just a minute or so. It makes a difference.
I’m a big fan of cold spaghetti for breakfast, and rate this dish two snaps up, leftoverwise.
- Kosher salt
- 6 stems fresh parsley
- 2 cloves garlic
- One 2-ounce piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
- 8 ounces dried spaghetti
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄3 cup panko (bread crumbs)
- 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
- One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, plus their juices
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch or two of salt.
Meanwhile, mince the parsley leaves and the garlic. Use a Microplane grater or box grater to grate the cheese.
Add the pasta to the boiling water; reduce the heat to medium-high and cook according to the package directions, until al dente.
While the pasta cooks, combine the parsley, garlic, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper, panko and ground turkey in a mixing bowl. Use your clean hands to gently mix, until thoroughly incorporated.
Form the meatballs; I like to do this in two steps, which won’t add extra time to the clock and eliminates the guesswork involved in making them all the right size: First, divide the meatball mixture into 16 equal portions, placing them on a piece of parchment paper or on a cutting board. Then, wet your hands and roll them into balls.
Drain the pasta, reserving 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, turning as needed to brown evenly. (They won’t be cooked through.)
Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a blender. Cover and puree until smooth, then transfer the sauce and the meatballs to the same pot you used for the spaghetti (which should at this point be cooked and drained, in the colander). Once the mixture starts to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, which will finish cooking the meatballs.
Add the pasta to the pot, tossing gently to incorporate; add the pasta cooking water and let the whole thing cook for another minute or two; this will help thicken the sauce. Divide among bowls; drizzle with a little more oil, if desired, and scatter the Parm on each portion. Serve warm.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to email@example.com.
Calories: 530; Total Fat: 20 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 135 mg; Sodium: 170 mg; Carbohydrates: 52 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 5 g; Protein: 30 g.