Turkey Meatballs and Grated Fresh Tomato Sauce With Harissa 4.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky/The Washington Post

Nourish Sep 19, 2019

Grating ripe, in-season tomatoes yields a sumptuously fresh-tasting sauce which, here, gets layered with aromatic, deeply flavorful harissa, a quintessential Middle Eastern condiment. The sauce is simmered with tender turkey meatballs made with whole-grain oats, rather than the traditional bread crumbs, for a nourishing meal that is as exciting as it is comforting. Serve it in bowls with crusty bread or pita alongside, or over a bed of couscous or fresh arugula leaves.

Storage Notes: Cooked meatballs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Where to Buy: Harissa can be purchased at many grocery stores, Middle Eastern markets and online.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 4 pounds ripe, fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 medium cloves garlic (1 clove finely minced and 1 clove thinly sliced)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound (90 to 94 percent) lean ground turkey (or a mix of light and dark meat)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons harissa, or more as needed
  • Slices of crusty bread or cooked couscous, for serving


Slice the tomatoes in half crosswise and gently squeeze the seeds into a bowl. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the liquid from the bowl of seeds and discard the rest. Grate the tomatoes on the coarse side of a box grater set over a bowl, pressing the cut side of the tomato against the grates. Discard the skins.

Use the same box grater to grate the onion into another medium bowl until you have about 2 tablespoons. (Keep the remaining onion for another use.) Place the oats and the reserved tomato liquid into the bowl, stir and let sit until the liquid is absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg, 2 tablespoons parsley, the minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and stir to combine. Add the turkey and mix with your hands to combine but avoid overmixing.

Form the turkey mixture into 12 balls, wetting your hands with cold water if they become sticky as you work. If the meatballs seem loose, refrigerate them for 30 minutes to firm them up.

In a large deep skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the meatballs and cook, turning them two to three times, until browned all over and nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Stir the remaining tablespoon of oil, the harissa, the sliced garlic and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper into the bowl of tomatoes, then pour the tomatoes into the skillet with the meatballs. Turn the heat to medium and bring the sauce to a boil, then cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has somewhat thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste and add additional harissa, if desired.

Divide the meatballs and sauce across 4 bowls, garnish with the remaining parsley, and serve with crusty bread or over couscous.

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Recipe Source

From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.

Tested by Anne Midgette.

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