Turkey Meatballs in Pomodoro

Turkey Meatballs in Pomodoro

I feel like Turkey Meatballs have a bad rap, am I right? Actually, I think ground Turkey in general has a bad rap!! The first one to tell you that would be my Husband! He absolutely hated Ground Turkey… until he had these Meatballs😏. I do have to agree that I’ve had my share of bad, dry, bland ground Turkey recipes 💯. It’s such a lean meat on its own that you need to mix some fat in there to add
1. Flavour & 2. Moisture. So, to assure just that, that’s exactly what I did. Half ground turkey, half ground pork and a bunch of other good stuff to make them taste amazing.
I’ve made my share of meatball recipes. I tried frying in the pan before adding them to the sauce. I tried baking them in the oven before adding them to the sauce. But for me, the winner is poaching them directly in the sauce for the whole cooking time. I find this method doesn’t only assure tender meatballs but flavours the sauce as well. Win Win right?

Before we dive into those meatballs, let’s talk sauce. Prior to our trip to Italy, I feel like I didn’t appreciate a simple dish as much as I should have. I felt like you had to add a bunch of different ingredients to make it taste good. In some recipes, that’s the case… but some recipes are so simple, have so little ingredients and are so perfect that way (hence the 3 ingredient Pomodoro). Another fabulous 4 ingredient recipe: Cacio e Pepe😍 (Let’s make that on the Blog soon K?) So, Pomodoro! One of my best food memories is our cooking class in Tuscany with Chef Giancarla (Hi Giancarla I miss you😘)!! We spent the afternoon making pasta, drinking Prosecco, making sauce, drinking more Prosecco, and then eating all the pasta with all the sauce and all the wine… that was such a good day! Every single one of us were so blown away by how good that Tomato Sauce was! Let me let you in on the secret😏… OLIVE OIL, and lots of it! I’m talking about ½ cup ish!! And obviously good quality tomatoes also make the difference. Jarred tomato puree is what Giancarla used. That specific puree was from Sicilian cherry tomatoes, so naturally sweet! Unfortunately, can’t find those on the shelf at the grocery store in Grand Falls but if you want to splurge a little I found them online (I’ve ordered like 2 cases since last fall🤫) BUT, this is totally not necessary, just letting you know it’s possible! Today I used good old Passata and it was also delicious! Btw, if you’re not familiar with Passata, it’s simply tomatoes that have been peeled, seeded and blended into a puree. Usually it’s raw tomatoes. Perfect for making sauces.

Here’s how she made it:

In a large saucepan, add about ½ cup olive oil. I know it seems like a lot but it adds so much flavour to the sauce. Add 4-5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed. You want to add those to the oil and set the heat to medium-low. You slowly want to infuse the oil without burning that garlic. The garlic will sizzle and start to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. This part can be tricky (and messy) and you’re dealing with hot oil so be careful. Pour the passata (2 – 680ml jars) into the oil/garlic (I usually pull the pan off the heat for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes because it tends to “splatter”. You can use a whisk to combine the oil and tomato puree together but as it simmers it will emulsify. Also, if you want to add a few basil leaves or red pepper flakes, you can!! Gently simmer the sauce for about 30-40 minutes. You can make this directly in the pan you will be cooking the meatballs, one pan = less cleaning = #winning. Just make sure that pan has a lid. Now, if you don’t have the time to make the Pomodoro or you have a favourite Tomato Sauce recipe, you can totally use that instead. Even you favourite jarred Marinara would work well, you will need 5-6 cups sauce total. 

Now, the Meatballs!!!

**I’m sorry in advance for the raw meat pictures**

  • 1 pound ground Turkey
  • 1 pound ground Pork
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3-4 small celery ribs, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
  • ½ cup parsley leaves, measured then finely chopped
  • 5-6 large basil leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup (heaping) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup Italian bread crumbs (I used seasoned)
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and Pepper
  • EVOO

Start off by sautéing the onions and celery in some EVOO on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Translucent is what you’re going for not browned.Add the garlic, parsley and basil. Cook for another few minutes until. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, add the ground turkey, the ground pork, the cooled veggie mixture, the grated parm, the panko, breadcrumbs, egg. Season with 1 tsp kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Another important tip to having soft, tender meatballs is to not overmix!! Using your hands (sorry if the raw meat freaks you out, it’s gonna be worth it 😉) Mix everything until just combined. This is another very important Tip*** Take a small piece, a TBSP or so and cook in a small pan to taste the seasoning. Now is the time to taste test not when you have rolled all the meatballs and they are cooking. Taste that little piece and adjust the seasoning from there. If you seasoned the veggies and then added a tsp of salt, it should be pretty perfect. The Parm also adds some saltiness. If the mixture suits your taste buds, set it in the fridge to rest for about 30 minutes.

Meatball tip #25🤣 They all need to be the same size (I feel like I’m being pretty passionate about these Meatballs, as one should be right?) The easiest trick for this is using a scoop. I use a medium size scoop, I would say it’s about a ¼ cup. So, if you don’t have a scoop use a ¼ cup measure. You should have
22-25 meatballs. Add all the meatballs to the pot of simmering sauce, place the lid and simmer on low for about 35 minutes. Take one out at give it a taste (let cool a few minutes it’s HOT).

Now, the fun part!! Picking the vessel for these babies. I didn’t want to specify any certain way to serve these because you have sooo many options and really, it depends on how I’m feeling that day. Let me list my faves:

  • Serve straight from the pan with a crusty baguette, YUM!
  • Meatball Sandwich with melty Cheese🤤
  • Spaghetti, Classic🍝! Or with whatever your favourite pasta may be!
  • PIZZA🍕🍕🍕!!!!! Meatball Pizza, it’s a thing and I love it!
  • Polenta🙌🏼 Or even a good scoop of mashed potatoes!
  • If you’re feeling healthy, serve on a bed on Arugula dressed with a little EVOO, S&P and some parm, so yummy!
  • Serve alongside some eggs, roasted potatoes and Sourdough toast for a killer Italian Brunch (We had it at Giada’s Restaurant and it was👌🏼).

Which ever way you choose to serve these, it will be delicious!! Make sure to garnish with fresh Basil and lots of PARM!!!

Grab a bottle of wine, put on some music, and make some Meatballs!

XO, Nat


Turkey Meatballs in Pomodoro

  • Author: Natalie
  • Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 90 minutes
  • Yield: 22-25 Meatballs
  • Category: Lunch, Dinner, BLD
  • Cuisine: Italian


These Turkey Meatballs in Pomodoro will definitely become one your Family’s favourite recipes. Tender, Full of Flavour and served in a delicious Tomato Sauce. The only thing you need to do is pick your vessel! Pasta or Bread… that is the question!


For the Meatballs:

  • 1 Pound Ground Turkey
  • 1 Pound Ground Pork
  • 1 Small White Onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3-4 Small Ribs Celery, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2-3 Large Garlic Cloves, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/2 Italian Parsley Leaves, measured then finely chopped
  • 5-6 Large Fresh Basil Leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Cup (heaping) Freshly Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 Cup Panko
  • 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs (I used the Italian seasoned breadcrumbs)
  • 1 Egg
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh Basil & Parmigiano-Reggiano to serve

For the Sauce:

  • 1/2 Cup EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 4-5 Garlic Cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 Jars Passata (680ML)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Optional : Red Pepper Flakes


For the Meatballs:

  1. In a small skillet on medium-low heat, saute the onions and celery with some EVOO. Season with salt & pepper. You want the veggies to be translucent but not browned. It should take about 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add the grated garlic, parsley and basil. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and let it cool.
  3. In a large bowl, add the ground turkey, ground pork, cooled veggies, grated parm, panko, breadcrumbs, egg, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  4. With your hands, mix everything together until just combined (don’t over mix it, you will have dense meatballs.)
  5. Take a small peice, about 1 TBSP and cook in a small skillet. Taste to make sure the seasoning is just right before you roll the balls. If the seasoning is to your liking, store the meat mixture in the fridge to rest for about 30 minutes (you can make the Pomodoro while the meat rest).
  6. Using a medium size scoop (or a 1/4 cup measure) scoop out 22-25 meatballs.
  7. Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce for about 35 minutes. Take one out to test to make sure they are cooked in the center.
  8. Serve with your side of choice, Enjoy!!

Pomodoro Sauce:

  1. In a large saucepan/skillet over medium-low, add 1/2 cup EVOO along with the crushed garlic cloves (you can use the one you will cook the meatballs in, just make sure you have a lid). Cook until the garlic is fragrant and slightly golden (watch not to burn). It should take about 10 minutes.
  2. *Carefully* pour in the Passata (I usually take the oil/garlic mixture off the heat for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes). Simmer the sauce for 30-40 minutes with the lid slightly ajar.


*You could swap the ground turkey for ground chicken.
**You can use your favourite tomato sauce or jarred marinara to cook the meatballs. If you do so, you will need 5-6 cups.
***The Meatballs freeze Beautifully!

Keywords: Meatballs, Turkey Meatballs, Pomodoro,

2 thoughts on “Turkey Meatballs in Pomodoro”

  • Super bon! Un de mes meilleurs repas à Rome était un spaghetti avec tomates et basilic frais…super simple mais goût extraordinaire…la simplicité des ingrédients dans cette recette me rappel de ce superbe repas… à refaire!

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