Craving a delicious dinner? Try these turkey pesto meatballs! They're packed with pesto and garlic, smothered in a rich sun dried tomato Alfredo sauce. Best enjoyed over pasta.
Turkey Pesto Meatballs
These tender turkey meatballs are full of pesto and garlic flavor, making them juicy and flavorful. They aren't dry like some meatballs. With added spices, you'll taste the pesto in every bite, and you'll get 18-20 meatballs from this recipe!
😍 Reasons to Love These Pesto Turkey Meatballs
- Flavor-packed: The combination of pesto and sun dried tomatoes adds a rich, deep flavor that's unforgettable.
- Creamy Alfredo: The sun dried tomato Alfredo sauce adds a creamy, tangy touch that pairs perfectly with the savory meatballs.
- Oven Baked: Baking the meatballs ensures they're cooked evenly, retaining their juiciness and making them healthier than fried alternatives.
- Crowd-Pleaser: This dish is bound to be a hit at family dinners, potlucks, or any gathering.
- Easy to Make: Despite their gourmet flavor profile, these meatballs are surprisingly easy to whip up.
✅ You'll Need
- Ground Turkey: Choose lean ground turkey to keep the meatballs healthier. You can also substitute with ground chicken or ground beef if desired.
- Breadcrumbs: These help bind the meatballs together. If you're on a gluten-free diet, almond meal is a great alternative. You can also use gluten-free breadcrumbs.
- Basil Pesto: This provides a burst of flavor. If you don't have store-bought pesto, you can make your own homemade pesto with basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. A spinach-based pesto could also work.
- Parsley: Fresh parsley adds flavor and color. If unavailable, dried parsley can be used, but reduce the amount by half.
- Minced Garlic: Fresh garlic is best, but in a pinch, you can use garlic powder. One clove is roughly equivalent to ⅛ teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Sweet Paprika: This adds a mild sweetness and color.
Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce:
- Butter: Unsalted butter allows you to control the salt content. If using salted butter, adjust added salt accordingly.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes: They provide a concentrated tomato flavor. If you don't have the paste, you can chop sun-dried tomatoes finely or use a blender.
- Heavy Cooking Cream: This provides the creamy base for the sauce. For a lighter version, use half-and-half or a mix of milk and cream, but the sauce might be less thick.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese: Freshly grated is best for melting smoothly. You can also use Pecorino Romano or Asiago cheese as alternatives.
- Parsley: Used mainly for garnish. If unavailable, fresh basil or chives can add a similar fresh touch.
🔪 How to Make Turkey Pesto Meatballs
Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients. Then, shape into about 18-20 meatballs, each around 2 inches wide.
Place the meatballs on the baking sheet. Lightly spray them with cooking oil. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until they're fully cooked inside.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and sun-dried tomato puree, cooking just until the garlic gives off its aroma, about 1 minute.
Pour in the cream and bring it to a gentle simmer. Let it cook for 2 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Mix in the Parmesan cheese and cook until it's fully melted. Then, add the baked meatballs and let them cook for roughly 2 minutes, or until the sauce becomes slightly thicker.
Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy with your favorite pasta!
👩🍳 Pro Tips
- Avoid over-mixing the meatball mixture. A gentle touch ensures meatballs that are moist and tender.
- Use a cookie scoop to ensure all meatballs are the same size, which leads to even cooking.
- For a richer and more intense tomato flavor, opt for sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil. If you're using dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes to soften, then drain and chop or puree.
- Grate your own cheese from a block for the best melt. Pre-packed shredded cheese doesn't melt as well because of added stuff that keeps it from sticking.
- Let the cheese warm up to room temperature before adding it to the sauce.
- Use a good butter. We like using the Land O’ Lakes brand.
❗ Alfredo sauce gets thicker over time, especially with pasta. So, no need to add extra cheese to make it thick.
- Cool First: Allow the meatballs and sauce to cool to room temperature.
- Refrigerate: Transfer the meatballs and sauce into airtight containers. Keep them stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Separate or Together: You can choose to freeze the meatballs and sauce separately or together, depending on your future meal plans.
- Freeze Meatballs: Place the cooled meatballs on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze for 1-2 hours. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag, squeezing out as much air as possible.
- Freeze Sauce: Pour the cooled sauce into a freezer-safe container, leaving about an inch of space at the top to allow for expansion.
- Label and Date: Always label and date your items before placing them in the freezer. This way, you'll know what it is and how long it's been stored.
- Longevity: The frozen meatballs and sauce can be stored for up to 2-3 months.
- From the Refrigerator: Reheat the meatballs and sauce together in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. You can also use the microwave, heating in intervals and stirring in between until warm.
- From the Freezer: It's best to thaw the meatballs and sauce overnight in the refrigerator. Once thawed, reheat as you would if it was refrigerated. If in a rush, you can reheat directly from frozen over low-medium heat, covering the skillet to ensure even heating.
Pasta: Serve the meatballs and sauce over your favorite pasta, like linguine, spaghetti, fettuccine, or penne. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.
Rice or Risotto: Serve over a bed of fluffy white rice or creamy risotto for a comforting meal.
Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles): For a low-carb option, spiralized zucchini noodles make a delicious base.
Garlic Bread: Dip crusty Garlic Bread into the rich Alfredo sauce for a mouthwatering treat.
Polenta: Creamy polenta complements the flavors of the meatballs and sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce.
Mashed Potatoes: Another comforting option is serving the meatballs and sauce atop a mound of creamy Boursin Mashed Potatoes.
Steamed Veggies: Serve with steamed or roasted vegetables like Steamed Broccoli, green beans, or asparagus for a complete meal.
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