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A skillet filled with meatballs with marinara and melted cheese.

Cheesy Turkey Meatballs

Valerie Brunmeier
Lean ground turkey is transformed into a bubbling skillet full of the most delicious Cheesy Turkey Meatballs. Satisfy your craving for Italian food with this low calorie dish.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 439 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided (or as needed)
  • 3/4 cup diced cremini mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup grated yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup seasoned Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried fennel seed crush it with your fingers before adding
  • 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 25 ounces low-sodium marinara sauce (use the entire jar or as much as desired)
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons torn fresh basil for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a deep 12-inch oven-proof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and their liquid is nearly evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool slightly.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the egg, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir in the bread crumbs, fresh parsley, basil and fennel seed (crush it with your fingers as you add it). Add the ground turkey, sprinkle with the Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, and mix to combine. Fold in the mushroom mixture. Form the mixture into 16 meatballs and set them aside on a large piece of foil.
  • In the same skillet you used to cook the mushroom mixture, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides. There is no need to cook them through at this point, just cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning with tongs until nicely browned on all sides.
  • Pour the sauce into the skillet over the meatballs. For very saucy meatballs add the entire jar of marinara or add less to your liking. Top with mozzarella cheese, transfer the uncovered skillet to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through and cheese has melted.
  • Garnish with fresh basil and serve.

Video

Notes

Nutrition information per serving was calculated for 4 meatballs with 3 tablespoons sauce.
Cook's Tips
  • For lean but luscious meatballs, start with 93% lean ground turkey.
  • Part-skim mozzarella will help keep the fat and calorie count down.
  • Look for a reduced sodium marinara from brands like Silver Palate or Victoria to significantly reduce sodium levels.
  • I switch back and forth between using Parmesan, which is made from cow's milk, and Pecorino Romano, which is made from sheep's milk, in these meatballs and my other Italian recipes. They are similar hard, salty cheeses that add a ton of flavor. Costco carries big blocks of both of these cheeses and you can't beat the price.
  • Fennel seed is a fabulous way to make ground turkey mimic the flavor of Italian sausage. It's a very fragrant spice that adds a unique flavor to Italian sauces and helps to create these to die-for turkey meatballs. Crush it between your fingers before adding it to recipes to help it open up and begin to release its amazing flavor.
Make-Ahead Instructions
  • Form the meatballs and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cover with another sheet of foil and refrigerate the uncooked meatballs for up to 24 hours before proceeding with the recipe as directed.
  • If desired, the meatballs can be frozen for longer storage. Transfer the baking sheet of uncooked meatballs to your freezer for an hour or two or until frozen solid. At this point you can transfer them to a freezer-safe plastic storage bag and freeze them for up to 3 months. Thaw them safely and completely overnight in the refrigerator when you're ready to cook them.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 4meatballsCalories: 439kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 36gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 156mgSodium: 925mgPotassium: 549mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 712IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 423mgIron: 3mg
Keyword turkey meatballs
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