I was watching Iron Chef America the other day and the secret ingredient was mozzarella. One of the chefs stuffed some meatballs with mozzarella, and my wheels started turning as my mouth started watering. They used a mix of ground meats for their meatballs (veal, pork, beef), but I wanted to make it a bit leaner by using ground turkey. Tim and I both thought the meatballs turned out so tasty and the melted mozzarella in the middle was just killer. It really just put it over the top. Delicious!
For our meatballs, I happened to find ground turkey with Italian seasoning. You could use plain ground turkey, turkey Italian sausage, turkey hot Italian sausage, whatever you like. Along with that, we put your usual suspects in the meatballs – bread crumbs, an egg, parmesan, parsley, worcestershire, onion, and garlic. Then, we wrapped the meat mixture around a bit of fresh mozzarella and baked them. I had an 8 oz. ball of mozzarella, but the little mini balls (called bocconcini or mozzarella pearls) would work perfectly. As it was, I just cut the mozzarella into about 1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes and it worked beautifully. (I only used about half of the 8 oz. of cheese.)
Anyway, I had some homemade marinara sauce in the freezer for just such an occasion. I sautéed some onions and peppers, threw in the sauce, and it was great with the meatballs. You can use whatever tomato sauce and pasta you like. Another part of my hair-brained scheme that day was to make a spaghetti squash (for the first time!) to go with the meatballs. It worked out great and paired very well with the meatballs! But that’s for another post.
Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs
- 1 package ground turkey with Italian seasoning (1.25 lb)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1.5 T worcestershire sauce
- 1 egg
- 2 T parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 of an onion
- about 4 oz. of fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes or mozzarella pearls
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix ground turkey, parmesan, bread crumbs, garlic, worcestershire, egg, parsley, salt, and pepper. With a box grater or small hand grater, grate the onion right into the meat mixture so the onion and juice go into the bowl. This will help keep the meatballs moist and then you won’t have big chunks of onion. Mix everything together until well combined but do not overmix. Pat the meat into an even mound and then score it into four equal parts. From each fourth, you should get four meatballs.
With each portion of meat, form a small patty in the palm of your hand. Place the cheese on the patty and then form it into a ball, being sure it’s tightly closed up so your cheese doesn’t leak out. They should end up about golf ball sized, and you should have 16 of them.
Place a wire rack on top of a baking sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil. Place the meatballs on top of the wire rack and bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
Heat the tomato sauce you are going to use on the stove. When the meatballs are done, place them in the sauce and roll them around gently so they are covered with the sauce. Allow them to cook for ten minutes or more to soak up some of the flavors of the sauce. The longer they sit, the more the flavors will soak in, but it is hard to resist eating them!