Several of the food blogs I read participate in a cooking group called Craving Ellie in my Belly. They are cooking through Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave – a book I mentioned before after borrowing it from my library. I don’t own it yet but someday (when I find a place to store my growing collection of cookbooks) I hope to! A few weeks ago the group made Ellie’s turkey meatballs with quick and spicy tomato sauce so the recipe and accompanying photos were popping up all over my Google Reader.

Immediately I knew I wanted to try these. I did a quick scan of the ingredient list and made a mental note to pick up the items I needed next time I was at the store. Unfortunately, my memory is awful so I didn’t exactly end up with what I needed (note to self: get better about making shopping lists). I adapted Ellie’s recipe to make it work with what I had. I also had to skip the onions and carrot in the meatballs or else Shane would likely boycott dinner.

Even with all of my modifications, this was still a fabulous recipe! The sauce was perfect – very flavorful and just spicy enough. This was my first time using fire roasted tomatoes and I really enjoyed them. My sauce was a bit chunky because I picked up diced instead of crushed tomatoes but I added some of the pasta water to thin it out to coat the pasta and that seemed to do the job. Next time I make the recipe (and there will be a next time) I’m going to make sure I get the right ingredients and also split the meat into 2 bowls so I can add the carrots and onion to my meatballs, which I suspect will really enhance the flavor!

Turkey Meatballs with Quick and Spicy Tomato Sauce
from FoodNetwork.com

Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, liquid included
1 teaspoon finely minced canned chipotle en adobo and sauce, or more to taste
2 teaspoons chopped oregano leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Salt
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Meatballs
cooking spray
1 pound ground turkey
1 slice fresh whole-wheat bread, crusts removed, pulsed into crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1/2 cup finely grated carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
16 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti (I used regular spaghetti)

Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil for pasta.

To make the sauce: Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add tomato paste, tomatoes, chipotles, oregano, rosemary, and salt. Bring all the ingredients to a low boil, reduce heat and cook for approximately 15 minutes, until liquid has evaporated slightly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. While sauce is cooking, make meatballs.

To make the meatballs: Preheat the broiler. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray (I just lined the sheet with aluminum foil and sprayed it with cooking spray so it’d be easier to clean up). Combine the turkey with all other ingredients in a large work bowl. Form into 2 1/2 -inch balls and place on a baking sheet (The recipe calls for 12 meatballs but my mixture yielded 10). Broil for 10 minutes, or until browned and almost entirely cooked through.

Meanwhile, remove rosemary sprig from sauce and add fresh basil. Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and cook additional 10 minutes, or until sauce has slightly thickened and meatballs have absorbed some of the sauce. While the meatballs are cooking, cook the spaghetti according to package directions.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the sauce and meatballs, toss and heat through over medium heat. Divide evenly among 4 pasta bowls and garnish with parsley and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan.