There’s no lengthy cooking times, no baking and no searing these meatballs. Instead they are simmered in a simple tomato basil sauce. Have a light touch when mixing and forming the meatballs. Also, when you add them to the sauce, be careful not to stir the sauce for about 10 minutes so the meatballs have a chance to firm up. Once they’ve cooked and firmed up a bit, you can stir normally. Serve these alone with a dollop of ricotta cheese, over spaghetti, or with rustic bread.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 large basil sprig plus handful of torn basil leaves
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs or regular breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk, we use reduced fat
1 large egg
1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, coarsely grated (generous 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves and tender stems, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground turkey (93% lean)
In a large skillet with sides and lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes then cook 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until the color turns from bright red to orange, about 2 minutes.
Pour in the crushed tomatoes and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer. Add the basil sprig then taste for seasoning. Adjust with additional salt if needed. Continue to simmer while you prepare the meatballs.
Stir breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl, and then let sit 5 minutes. Add the egg, cheese, parsley, oregano, and the salt. Stir until well blended.
Add the ground turkey and use a fork or your fingers to gently mix everything together until combined. For the most tender meatballs, try your best not to over mix.
Wet your hands, and then form the mixture into 1-inch balls. You should get about 24 meatballs.
Gently drop the meatballs into tomato sauce. (It’s okay if some are not completely covered by the sauce). Cover the skillet and cook 20 minutes. Gently shimmy the skillet to move the meatballs around a little and then cook another 5 to 10 minutes or until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked. Just before serving, scatter torn basil leaves over meatballs and sauce.