Turkey Pesto Meatballs

Turkey Pesto Meatballs from weelicious.com

After posting a picture of these Turkey Pesto Meatballs last week on our Facebook School Lunch photo gallery, I got so many requests for the recipe that I decided I should put it up ASAP!

The inspiration for this recipe comes from a Weelicious reader. She tried a meatball at a local restaurant that had been made with pesto, and wanted to know if I had a similar recipe, so I got to work! I love getting requests to figure out recipes because I get to test out new things, and I often end up finding new family favorites.

Pesto is a staple in this house. It is so versatile, so you’ll always find some in my fridge. Classic pesto is made with basil and pine nuts, but we also love to sub kale and walnuts sometimes for a different flavor.

Turkey Pesto Meatballs from weelicious.com

You can make meatballs any size you prefer, but I find that smaller bite-sized meatballs are best for the little ones. It can be intimidating to see something huge on your plate when you’re small. Little hands can easily hold little items, so smaller meatballs - called “party size” when you buy them in the freezer section - are perfect for toddlers and young kids. Kids that are more skilled at using forks will have an easy time poking these and munching to their heart’s content. 

You can serve turkey pesto meatballs on top of pasta, in a sub sandwich, or on their own. I like to make a double batch, freeze half, and take out just a few at a time to add to school lunch. 

Everyone under my roof loved these bite-sized gems. Shockingly, the person who ate the most -- Chloe, our 14 month old -- downed six (six!) in one meal. She probably would have eaten the whole batch had I let her, but even babies need to share!

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Turkey Pesto Meatballs (Serves 4-6)

Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time: 25 mins

egg free

nut free

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup pesto (recipe linked below)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (recipe linked below)

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place all the ingredients (except for the marinara sauce) in a bowl and using your hands, combine until everything is incorporated.

3. Using about 1 tablespoon of the mixture per meatball, roll into balls and place on a plate.

4. Pour the marinara sauce into a 9 x 9 inch baking pan and top with the meatballs.

5. Cover the baking pan with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.

To Freeze: Roll into balls and place on a cookie sheet and freeze. After 30 minutes place the par-frozen balls in a ziploc bag, label and freeze. When ready, defrost in fridge for 24 hours or put them straight in the oven with sauce increasing cooking time by 5 minutes.

Accompaniments

homemade pesto: http://weelicious.com/2011/01/05/basil-pesto/
homemade tomato sauce: http://weelicious.com/2009/10/06/weelicious-tomato-sauce/

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Hi, I’m Catherine. Mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. I create simple, healthy recipes the whole family will love.