Lunchbox: Spicy Turkey Meatballs

I've learned skipping meals and me don't really mix. I am one of those unfortunates whose stomach seems to be stuck in a five-year-old mentality, where if it doesn't get fed every few hours it starts throwing a tantrum. My family used to call them snits when I was younger, and now that I'm all growed up and on my own they throw around terms like blood sugar - I'm still awful snitty when I don't get fed, but slightly more dignified in advertising the fact. I've never understood the people who forget to eat, or simply don't care enough to stop for lunch, or can just take it or leave it. There's this great line in Jennifer Weiner's Good In Bed (I happen to think she's an excellent author; I picked up In Her Shoes after I cried through the movie, and moved on to Goodnight Nobody which is a wonderful suburban mystery and really rather witty especially in that there are not a lot of female characters in murder mysteries with children and it was refreshingly different, and then Good In Bed though not what I expected and halfway through I started disliking it, but loved it again by the end - but I digress) about how she - she being the main - didn't understand her best friend who could take or leave meals, because she could almost always take them, and then her friend's too. That's fairly apt.
So lunches are clearly not to be missed under any circumstances. Lunches, in fact, are often one of the high points of the work day. I try to take lunches to work with me not only because I figure no matter what I bring with me, it's definitely cheaper than eating out, and I've been making a sort-of effort to make things that at least in theory sound healthy. (Part of it's the whole wanting to be healthful bit, and a large part of it, bad as this may be, also is that obesity has been a hot seminar topic for discussion. I am so not about to be caught with, for instance, a cheesesteak and fries going into an obesity seminar.)

In deference this week to my post-Kentucky wallet, meals have been inspired by what I can use that's already in my kitchen or what's in sale - this week, it was lean ground turkey. That doesn't always excite me, as turkey burgers and turkey meatballs can turn out really kind of dry and I don't know, unappetizingly grey, but at 4 bucks for 1.3 lbs it worked for me. After scrounging around the cupboard, I'm actually pretty darn pleased with this version - they've got a slight kick to them, a color change, and are moist on the inside, a bit of grit on the outside. I have found them somewhat addictive, and paired with some tomato rice (boil yourself a cup and a half of brown or white rice with chicken broth, add some diced really ripe tomato or one can petite diced tomatoes with their juices, and stir it together well) it's substantial enough to last even me through an afternoon slump.
adapted from the all-new Joy of Cooking

1/2 large Vidalia onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 Tbsp olive oil
1.3 lbs lean ground turkey (97%/3%)
1 large egg
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp milk
3 Tbsp dry breadcrumbs
1-2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cilantro
1 - 1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
~ 1/4 - 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes to taste

In a medium skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil until fragrant. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is tender but not browned, about 7 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together the turkey, egg, Parmesan, milk, breadcrumbs, tomato paste, and seasonings until well combined. Add the onion and garlic and mix together well until evenly distributed. Shape the mixture into 1 - 1 1/2 inch size balls and roll in cornmeal to coat. Gently shake or toss the meatball between your hands to shed excess cornmeal.
Add the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs without crowding. Brown on all sides, about 10 minutes or so total.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

These were great! I substituted almond milk, rice bread crumbs and parmesan flavor veggie grated topping to make it milk and gluten free.

I also used Italian spice and cayenne instead of the spices listed (my fav, I don't like cumin).

Once the meatballs cooked I poured a natural spagetti sauce overtop and let it simmer while the rice noodles cooked to turn it into spagetti.


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