Turkey Pesto Meatballs – with lots of hidden veggies!

How was your Thanksgiving?  I hope you all had a great time with family and friends!  I made Patrick’s grandmother’s apple pie for our family Thanksgiving.  Patrick’s grandmother was truly a sweet, gentle, woman of faith.  She passed away two Thanksgivings ago and we miss her.  Isn’t it wonderful to make a recipe that reminds you of a special person?  That’s how we feel about that apple pie.  Patrick reminded me that his grandmother used to use the leftover pie crust to bake little pies with sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon sugar in them.  It’s a fond memory he has of his grandmother…I’m going to have to do that next time!

I definitely need to learn how to crimp the edges better…but it was made with love, right? 🙂  If you’re feeling like you need a lighter dish after all the Thanksgiving indulgences, try these turkey pesto meatballs!  I snuck in some grated carrots and zucchini, so you can feel good that you’re getting your veggies.  They’re great for the kids (and adults too), as you can’t taste the hidden veggies in there.  The garlicky, basil pesto is a really nice addition to the turkey and pairs so well with marinara sauce.

Start by combining a grated carrot, grated and squeezed zucchini, basil pesto, seasoned bread crumbs and parmesan cheese to your ground turkey.

Mix together lightly with a fork, and then form into small meatballs.  Place the meatballs on a greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.  You can also freeze the meatballs before baking, and keep them in a freezer bag.  Defrost and bake as usual or bake straight from frozen by adding an additional 5-10 minutes to the baking time.

Simmer them with your favorite marinara sauce, and serve with spaghetti or make into meatball subs!  These are great for a healthy, weeknight dinner!

Turkey Pesto Meatballs

1 1/4 pound ground turkey

1 carrot, grated

1 zucchini, grated and squeezed to remove moisture

1/4 cup parmesan, grated

1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1/4 cup basil pesto

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Grate a zucchini and using your hands, squeeze to remove as much liquid as you can.  Combine ground turkey, grated carrot and zucchini, parmesan, pesto, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Mix together lightly with a fork.  Form into small meatballs and place on a greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Simmer with your favorite marinara sauce and serve on top of spaghetti or in meatball subs.  If you want to freeze, freeze the uncooked meatballs on a sheet tray for 30 minutes and then transfer to a freezer bag.  Defrost in the refrigerator and bake as normal, or bake straight from the freezer by adding an additional 5-10 minutes to the baking time.  Enjoy!

What have you been eating lately?  We are still working on our Thanksgiving leftovers!  My mom made jook, a really comforting Chinese turkey and rice soup.  I’m sad that we have no pie left 😉

Do you have any recipes that are passed down that remind you of loved ones?


19 thoughts on “Turkey Pesto Meatballs – with lots of hidden veggies!

  1. Yum! I love these. I’ve been thinking that I need to start eating stuff on the lighter side. Although that hasn’t happened yet. Anyways, these look delish!

      • I literally want to grow all of the same herbs haha. Good to know about the cilantro. I’ll have to warn my boyfriend so he doesn’t get his hopes up too high. 🙂

      • It’s just tricky because it wants to bolt (go to seed), so you have to keep cutting it back (once a week). But I love cilantro so much, it’s worth it 🙂 Can’t wait to see your garden in the new year!

    • Thanks, Stephanie! Me too!! My daughter is really picky, I think the only veggies she likes are carrots and broccoli…so whenever I can sneak things in, I do 🙂 Hope you’re having a great birthday!

  2. You are awesome! Look at that delicious food.. apple pie and pasta, my two favs. I need to make some meatballs like this, looks yummy. I remember I used to make these veggie balls with veggies and stuff to bind them, and bake them in the oven. But it was too healthy tasting and I forced myself to enjoy it in salads. That was before I learned the lesson that some fat is okay as long as it’s healthy overall, like yours with the pesto and turkey.

  3. I know what you mean about special family recipes. Mostly I love making chicken paprikash just because it reminds me of Sunday afternoons with Grandma (she’s still alive, but on the other side of the ocean in a nursing home). Oh and your meatballs look super tasty!

    • Aw, that sounds like a dish made with grandmotherly love 🙂 Did you get to see her on your recent trip? Patrick’s grandmother made great pork roasts. My grandmother makes really good sushi and sekihan (Japanese style red beans and rice).

      • We did get to see her, which was really nice – and I made paprikash for the rest of the family as a mock Thanksgiving. Grandmas are the best for good old fashioned home cooking =)

  4. This is such a good idea! Especially the pesto… We buy ground turkey occasionally, but mainly use it for soups. These look like they are possibly the best meatballs ever!

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