Spaghetti with Spinach Pesto and Turkey Meatballs

Whew…that was a stressful weekend…who would have thought a simple update would turn into a nightmare.  There we were on Friday night updating our site, when all of a sudden it disappeared!  gone…vanished… it was awful … We had wiped out our whole blog, no more recipes, no more comments, no more statistics… nothing.  After moments of shock, yelling, screaming, and a  few tears we calmed down and found our most recent  backup.  On Sunday night, after a few struggles, a little more yelling and help from tech support, we got the backup uploaded, we finally had our site back …  Crisis averted.  Needless to say, we were just not in the mood to experiment in the kitchen too much, so we just made dinner, fortunately for you, it was really good and we took photos!

We made turkey meatballs, but as usual decided to add a few non-traditional flavors just becasue we could.  We allowed dried apricots and cranberries to sit in some sweet Marsala wine for a few minutes and added them to the meatball mix along with some salty feta cheese crumbles.  We also added some softened onions and garlic for additional flavor and texture.  The result was really nice, we would have liked the meatballs to be a bit more moist, but to be honest given how little fat was in the turkey meat to begin with, that is always going to be a problem.  We did make sure to add fresh bread crumbs, olive oil and an egg for a moister meatball which helped a lot.  We served the meatballs over a bowl of hot spaghetti with a delicious and vitamin packed spinach pesto sauce (that was our favorite part of the dish).  If you like pesto made with basil, you must give spinach pesto a try.  It is milder in flavor, but buttery with the addition of walnuts and Manchego cheese.  Store spinach pesto the same as you would basil pesto – pour a little olive oil on top and cover with plastic wrap.  You will find it lasts a few days in the fridge and weeks in the freezer.

Spaghetti with Spinach Pesto and Turkey Meatballs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Spinach pesto is so easy to make, you can even keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, just make sure you cover it with a thin layer of olive oil and tightly cover with plastic wrap. The meatballs are a little different with dried fruit and work really well with pasta tossed in the pesto.
Created By:
Yield: 4
You Will Need
Spinach Pesto
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves (3, if you want it a bit spicy)
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 grated manchego cheese (substitute: parmesan cheese)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Turkey Meatballs
  • 1 pound ground turkey meat
  • 1 1/2 slices fresh bread, crusts removed, pulsed into breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Marsala wine
  • 2 tablespoons diced dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons diced dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Spinach Pesto
  1. Use a knife to roughly chop the garlic, then add it to a food processor. Add the walnuts and pulse a few times. Add the spinach and pulse a couple more times. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture comes together. Remove the pesto from the food processor and add the cheese, salt and pepper, stir to combine. Serve over hot pasta using a little pasta water to loosen the sauce slightly if needed.
Turkey Meatballs
  1. Preheat the broiler and spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, pour the Marsala wine over the diced dried apricots and cranberries, then set aside for 5-10 minutes.
  3. In a medium frying pan over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 6 minutes.
  4. Combine the turkey with all other ingredients, including the apricots, cranberries, wine and the onion mixture in a large work bowl; try not to overmix the mixture, overmixing will make the meatballs tough and dry. Lightly form the mixture into 1-inch balls and place them on a baking sheet then put them under the broiler on a middle rack for about 15 minutes. You should stay close to the oven while the meatballs are cooking since they could easily burn. You may need to raise the meatballs to a higher rack at the end of the process to brown the tops and to ensure the meatballs are cooked through.

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17 comments… Leave a Comment

  • Evie November 18, 2009, 2:13 pm

    Creative touch with the dried fruit!

    Reply
  • Erin November 19, 2009, 7:01 am

    So that’s what happened to the site! Good for you guys, cooking even though you were upset. The fruit idea sounds amazing! I think I’ll try it.

    Reply
  • alecho November 19, 2009, 10:39 pm

    howdy!!! This is such a creative dish! turkey meatball? niiiiice. anywho, I’m new to this site, but I’m sorry to hear what happened. But it seems like everything is looking good :)

    Reply
  • danielle November 20, 2009, 1:24 pm

    My boyfriend and I made this last night! The meatballs were AMAZING! We actually cooked them at a lower temperature and they turned out juicy and delicious. The dried fruit was a fantastic addition. We also used oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs to make it healthier. We love your site and can’t wait to see more ideas!

    Reply
  • Bellini Valli November 20, 2009, 4:37 pm

    I am always searching for ground turkey or chicken recipes.Thrown in a little sauce this has to be on the menu next week.

    Reply
  • Esme November 22, 2009, 1:27 am

    I received my mortar and pestle-I cannot wait to use it. thank you
    please stop by-I have an award for you

    Reply
  • Joan Nova November 22, 2009, 5:28 pm

    Came to you via your listing in Finest Foodies Friday and I enjoyed poking around your site. I’m also going to back-up my blog the minute I finish this. You scared me!

    Reply
  • Wendi November 23, 2009, 10:15 am

    Congrats on the FFF listing. And many, many thanks for my happy prize.

    Reply
  • chaya November 24, 2009, 6:01 pm

    These would make a great dinner. Have printed it and must get some chopped turkey or chicken, whichever, the butcher has.

    Reply
  • Saltine July 15, 2010, 1:03 pm

    looks good

    a tip – the ladies over in sicily dip stale bread in milk and add that to the meatballs instead of breadcrumbs. keeps the inside super moist and pillowy my dear. try it out next time – it could be a major improvement if yr turkey comes out dry.

    Reply
  • Mariasolci January 13, 2011, 8:33 pm

    Silly question – did you use a whole box of pasta?

    Reply
    • inspiredtaste January 14, 2011, 10:05 am

      Mariasolci, one box of pasta should do the trick.

      Reply
  • Chris Tompkins October 12, 2011, 3:57 pm

    You are making me hungry! I love turkey meatballs, so looking forward to trying out your version :)

    Reply
  • Stefani October 12, 2011, 10:57 pm

    This looks yummy. I have never thought of spaghetti in a green way.

    Reply
  • Park City Lodging October 13, 2011, 9:42 am

    This recipe looks so delicious! My mouth is just watering over here…I will try the recipe as you have stated above but I am also anxious to give some of the other ideas that your users have as well!
    Thanks,
    Matti

    Reply
  • Kara August 3, 2014, 10:28 am

    Planning to try this today! It’s there an acceptable sub for the Marsala wine? Thanks

    Reply
    • Joanne August 7, 2014, 12:30 pm

      Either omit it all together or try a dry red wine. Chicken or beef stock can work, too.

      Reply

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