It’s not that certain people’s opinions matter more, it’s that praise from different palates holds more weight…..OK so that is basically the same thing actually. What I’m trying to say is when you get the thumbs up from the less easy to convince taste buds that’s when you know you’ve got a winner on your hands 😀
These meatballs are deliciously meaty (no bulking out additives here!) but light as they are made with turkey mince. Not only lower in more pro-inflammatory omega 6 than red meat but also a great source of Tryptophan which goes on to become Serotonin, keeping us all healthy, happy & bouncy. As a nice aside it also tends to be easier on the wallet!
So these fabulous meatballs are then bathed in a superbly delicious sauce that is also one of the most simple things you can turn your hands to. Per portion you’ve got 6 veggies in there and the best bit is you can get smaller hands in on the action too.
The ‘Gold Standard’ comes from my 2 newest recruits to the kitchen who recently made this entire meal pretty much by themselves (a couple of moments of assistance with knife safety was all that was required of me). And the best bit? The verdict of “God Level” when it came to the tasting – and this from a mouth that usually sticks to raw carrots with the occasional dalliance in cucumber as his vegetable limit 🙂
Serves 5-6 (I tend to just make a big batch and then freeze the extra for a great midweek meal with minimal effort)
For the meatballs:
- 700g turkey mince
- 1 medium leek
- 1 medium courgette
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp black pepper
- pinch himalayan salt
For the sauce:
- 1 large leek
- 4 sticks celery
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 3 medium or 4 small carrots
- 3 tins plum tomatoes
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- small handful fresh thyme sprigs
- 3-4 fresh bay leaves
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- coconut oil
- Begin by very finely slicing the leek and garlic for the meatballs. Add these to a frying pan with 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil and gently sweat on a low heat for 10-15 minutes until softened but not browned. Turn out onto a plate and leave to cool.
- Into a larger pan add a teaspoon of coconut oil followed by the leek and celery, these can be in largish chunks. Sweat on a medium flame whilst you prep the rest of your veggies.
- De-seed the peppers, peel the carrots and chop into smallish pieces, remove the papery outer skin from your garlic cloves and chop into chunky slices.
- Once the leek and celery have softened add the rest of your veg and continue to cook on a medium flame for a further 6-8 minutes.
- Add the fresh herbs and use a wooden spoon to press them down onto the heat at the base of the pan to release their fragrant oils for a couple of minutes, then add the tins of tomatoes. Fill 1 can with water, swirl it around and tip into the next, repeat with the 3rd can then add the water to the pan. Season with a few grinds of fresh black pepper and cover with a lid. Leave to simmer on a medium heat for 40 minutes, then remove the lid and continue to cook for a further 15-20 minutes until reduced and thickened slightly. Use a hand blender to puree to a smooth sauce.
- Meanwhile add your turkey mince to a large bowl, tip in your cooled leeks & garlic (this is the trick to not adding anything else – if these are warm the meatballs will fall apart) and use a coarse grater to grate in the courgette. Add the paprika, salt and pepper then use your hands to thoroughly combine the mixture. Pull off tablespoon sizes pieces of the mix and roll into balls, placing them on a plate whilst you continue with the rest of the mixture.
- Take the frying pan you used earlier and add a half a tablespoon of coconut oil. Heat on a medium to high flame and once hot add your meatballs. You want to seal them on all edges so they turn lightly golden but don’t cook through, personally I find using a spoon in one hand and fork in the other the easiest way to flip them without breaking them.
- Once they are all sealed, add them to the pureed sauce and leave to poach on a gentle simmer for 20 minutes or until cooked through. (Check the largest one is cooked and you know they’re all good)
- Serve with vegetable noodles, whole wheat or legume pasta (such as the ‘Really Healthy‘ range) or with extra steamed greens.