Real meal #4: turkey + gruyère meatballs.


This real meal rocked.

It was inspired by The Splendid Table caller question: A woman called in for the perfect meatball recipe. She was going to make them and propose to her boyfriend.

At first, I thought it sounded pretty strange. Meatballs and then a proposal? Errr, not my idea of romance……..

Then Lynne describes how she should make this proposal worthy meatball and spaghetti dish. I swear, it made me want to make meatballs immediately. And I’ve never made meatballs in my life. I’ve never even been a big spaghetti person. (Meh, if I’m eating pasta, I’d rather have mac‘n’cheese.)

Until now.

Go to the store. Stock up on the ingredients. Buy two bottles of wine (one just for the making of the meal, since there’s wine in every part of this dish). This is nothing short of AMAZING.


I couldn’t find this recipe online, so I had to play the caller question like five times and jot down Lynne’s directions in an e-mail to myself. It felt so old-fashioned, listening to someone describe a recipe, but I liked it. I liked it a lot.

I think it also gave way for improvisation, since I didn’t get every detail. I also had ground turkey, instead of chuck; Gruyère instead of parmesan; fresh thyme instead of basil. On it goes. I’ll write it all down at the end.

(Oh, and I’m 99% sure Lynne Rossetto Kasper  wouldn’t recommend using a Thomas bagel for the fresh bread crumbs either. Ha!)

thyme + onion

Start off by sautéing onions in olive oil. Once they are soft and translucent, add a few sprigs of fresh thyme and three chopped garlic cloves.


Grate 1 cup of Gruyère cheese. Then mix the onions, cheese, breadcrumbs, egg yolk, salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes in a bowl. I’m making an absolute mess, but still having fun. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for about an hour.

(Wash dishes, listen to music, read, drink more wine.)


I used my cookie scoop to make small meatballs. I had 33 in total…, good party recipe. These bake for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees.

turkey + gruyere meatballs

Next, start in on the sauce. Coat the bottom of a pan with olive oil and add one finely chopped onion. After the onions are soft and translucent, add garlic, tomato paste, and MORE wine.

more wine

After the wine cooks down – about ten minutes – add  one can of whole San Marzano tomatoes. They are a bit more expensive, but super fresh tasting. Squeeze the tomatoes with your hands to crush them up. Then add the meatballs and cook until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. (I froze half the meatballs and sauce, since this recipe makes such a large amount.)


Wait, not done yet! Put the meatballs and sauce in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat them the next day with spaghetti, and be prepared to be blown away. They are so divine.

meatballs + spaghetti

I’m a late blossoming fan of spaghetti and meatballs. I mean, I could actually see it being a proposal-worthy meal. It’s sexy and comforting at the same time.


Some artsy updates:

*I joined the pottery co-op this spring. I’m fessing up to this now, so hopefully I’ll actually get in the studio and make some pieces.

**Lastly, we have one of the best shows in the gallery at Living/Learning right now. Hand painted guitars by Sarah Ryan and Creston Lea. That’s right, and they are gorgeous! The exhibit is up until March 2 for local folks.

Turkey + Gruyère Meatballs

Adapted from Lynne Rossetto Kasper  from The Splendid Table

I had turkey and Gruyère on hand, but these would be just as delicious with ground beef (or a mixture of other meats) and Parmesan. The world is your oyster in terms of meatball variations! Go forth and play. 

Meatball Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (Use what you got….that was a bagel for me!)
  • 1/3 cup red wine (Just keep the bottle out. You’ll need it for sipping while you cook and the sauce.)
  • 2-3 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 pound ground turkey (I used 93 percent lean meat, and I found them still moist.)
  • 1 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 1 t tomato paste
  • 1 egg yolk
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Soak the bread crumbs in the wine. Set aside.
  2. Over medium heat, coat a medium skillet with olive oil. Add the onions, cooking until soft and translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Add the thyme and garlic, cooking only until fragrant, or about one minute. Let cool.
  3. Add the cooked onions, ground turkey, tomato paste, cheese, bread crumbs, egg yolk, and seasonings.
  4. Mix together and chill for about an hour.
  5. Make about 1 1/2 inch balls – I just used my cookie scoop and got 33 meatballs – and place on baking sheet. Bake for about 15-20 minutes at 450 degrees F. I turned my meatballs halfway through cooking. They won’t be all the way done, but will be browned on the outside.

*While meatballs are cooking, start the sauce.

Sauce Ingredients

  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes, whole


  1. Over medium heat, coat a medium skillet with olive oil. Add the onions, cooking until soft and translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, cooking only until fragrant, or about one minute.
  2. Next, add the tomato paste and red wine. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat, or until wine has cooked off.
  3. Add the tomatoes, breaking up them with your hands. Cook for another ten minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer until meatballs read an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
  4. Refrigerate sauce and meatballs until the next day. Reheat and serve with spaghetti. And more wine.

*Note, this recipe makes a lot, about 33 meatballs. I froze half of the meatballs and sauce, or you could halve the recipe.

About Sarah

Always thinking about my next meal.
This entry was posted in IN THE KITCHEN and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Real meal #4: turkey + gruyère meatballs.

  1. inherchucks says:

    these look beyond amazing! can’t wait to try them…IMMEDIATELY!

  2. Pingback: Real Meal #7: quick yakisoba + new pottery. « DAILY NIBBLES

Add your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s