Consider this your spaghetti and meatballs without the spaghetti. We were craving some hearty, saucy meatballs last night but wanted something less weighty than the traditional bowl of pasta. So we made delicious little turkey meatballs and piled them on a green bed of broccoli rabe and kale.
Meatballs are a great main dish, with or without pasta, and we didn't miss the spaghetti one bit. We used ground turkey that was 93 percent lean (as opposed to the almost all-white meat turkey you find in some packages) and juiced it up with grated onion, garlic, parsley, and a little parmesan cheese. They're lighter and leaner than classic meatballs but still tender and flavorful.
As for the vegetables, you can use any greens you like. We mixed broccoli rabe and kale, but you could use another bitter green, even regular broccoli. They are all full of vitamins and taste good smothered with tomato sauce—which, in the photo above, is from a jar. We were pressed for time. But try Sara Kate's Basic Tomato Sauce or your own recipe for more homemade oomph.
Turkey Meatballs over Greens
1.3-pound package of ground turkey
1/2 small to medium onion, grated on a box grater (about 1/4 cup grated onion)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce (or your favorite homemade recipe or jarred sauce)
2 pounds greens (like broccoli rabe, kale, mustard greens, or a mixture), washed, de-veined, and roughly chopped
Combine the turkey, onion, egg, breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley in a large bowl. Mix with your hands until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Roll portions of the mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. You should have between 26 and 30 meatballs.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt generously.
Heat olive oil on moderately high heat in a large, 14-inch skillet. Place the meatballs in the skillet and allow to sit until browned on one side, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, gently rotate the meatballs so that they brown on the other side, and continue cooking them for about 12 minutes total, rotating them carefully every few minutes so that all sides are brown.*
Reduce the heat to medium, add the tomato sauce, and cover the pan. Simmer the meatballs and sauce for another 10 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through.
While the meatballs are simmering, boil the greens in the salted water for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Drain. Put greens on the plate and top with meatballs and sauce.
*If your pan isn't large enough to brown all of the meatballs without them touching, cook them in batches and place them back on the cookie sheet once they've been browned. Then add them all to the pan before pouring in the tomato sauce and simmering.
Related: Recipe: Italian Escarole Soup
(Image: Elizabeth Passarella)