Meatballs lose fat but none of the flavor or juiciness in this variation made with ground dark-meat turkey and ricotta cheese. Once formed, the meatballs brown in the oven, essentially unsupervised, so you’re free to deal with the rest of the meal. A final simmer in a simple tomato sauce and you’re ready to plate or pack them into sandwich rolls.
What to buy: Pretty much any crushed tomatoes will do for this recipe, but we prefer the 6-in-1 brand for the right balance of sweetness and acidity.
- Yield: 14 meatballs, about 4 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 1 hr 20 mins
- Active: 20 mins
- Vegetable oil
- 1 cup fresh white breadcrumbs (about 3 ounces)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound ground dark-meat turkey
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the upper third. Generously coat a rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil and set aside.
- In a large bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and milk. Set aside until the crumbs have absorbed most of the milk, about 5 minutes. Crush the dried oregano with your fingers and add it to the bread mixture. Combine the fennel seeds and red pepper flakes on a cutting board and coarsely chop them, then add to the bread mixture. (Alternately, you can crush the oregano, fennel seeds, and pepper flakes coarsely in a mortar.) Add the ricotta, egg, parsley, measured salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in the ground turkey. Make sure the mixture is well combined. Shape into 14 meatballs, 3 to 4 tablespoons each. Transfer the meatballs to the prepared baking sheet.
- Roast the meatballs in the oven until browned and firm, about 15 minutes (they’ll brown mostly on the bottom, but that’s OK). Meanwhile, add the crushed tomatoes to a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Transfer the browned meatballs to the saucepan and, using a metal spatula, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the baking sheet and add them to the saucepan. Add the olive oil.
- Simmer the meatballs and tomato mixture over low heat until the sauce is thick and the meatballs are tender, about 30 minutes (turn the meatballs a few times during cooking). When the meatballs are nearly done, taste the sauce and season with salt as needed.
- Transfer the meatballs and tomato sauce onto a large warmed platter or individual plates. Garnish with the Parmesan and serve hot. Alternately, spoon meatballs and some of the tomato sauce into split sandwich rolls.