Pesto Meatballs

Pesto Meatballs

We have a slightly tragic tendency to favour the underdog, and turkey gets such a bad rap that we feel the need to stick up for it whenever we can.

The main issue with turkey is that it’s generally underseasoned and overcooked, which explains its infamy for being “bland and dry.” Maybe the fear of poisoning the extended family at Christmas means people feel the need to cook it to within an inch of its life.

Using a high-fat turkey mince, combined with a generous dollop of pesto, helps ensure your meatballs will be anything but bland. You can shallow fry these meatballs on a gentle heat or simmer them in a sauce, but we like baking them in the oven for ultimate ease.

Recommended equipment
Instant-read digital thermometer
Digital kitchen scales

Pro tip
In supermarkets, you’ll generally have a choice of two types of mince: 2% or 7% fat. Pick the former if you’re watching your weight, but the latter produces infinitely more juicy and flavourful results.

Ingredients for 20 meatballs

Turkey mince 500g
Pesto 90g
Gruyere 50g
Breadcrumbs 50g
Shallots x2
Egg x1

Ingredients for the sauce

Onion x1
Tinned tomatoes x2 tins
Pesto 100g
Garlic clove x1 clove
Dried oregano pinch
Chilli flakes optional
Canola oil as needed
Seasoning to taste

Beat the egg, dice the shallots, finely grate the cheese, and add to a mixing bowl along with the mince, breadcrumbs, and 90g of pesto.

Gently combine with a wooden spoon, but don’t over-mix. Use too much gusto, and the whole lot will turn into a puree, which is not what we’re after.

Using oiled hands, grab a little dollop of mince and roll it into a ball. We’re perfectionists, so weigh ours with digital scales into 40g patties. If that’s not your style, just make them around the size of a golf ball.

Heat the canola oil in a skillet or frying pan and, in batches, brown the meatballs all over. Set aside.

In the same pan, soften the sliced onion in a little more oil and add the crushed garlic, followed by the tomatoes, oregano, and chilli flakes (if using).

Place on an oil-greased tray and bake in a pre-heated 200°C oven until the meatballs register at least 165°F on a digital thermometer, around 10‒15 minutes.

Serving suggestions
Cold potato salad with a creamy Ranch dressing
Sweet potato mash and lingonberry jam
New York-style subs with curly fries
Crusty bread with chilli-tomato sauce
Polenta and mushroom ragout