Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini
What a joy it is to eat something that tastes great and is actually healthy! Plus, these are packed with veggies, so they are excellent for picky eaters.
Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini
500 g ground turkey (thigh meat is best)
120 g chopped celery
130 g chopped onions
250 g grated zucchini drained
55 g bread crumbs
1 t Italian seasoning
50 g cooked unpolished rice (15 minute cooking time rice) or brown rice of choice
oil for pan-frying like sunflower or canola
1 T olive oil
First things first, the rice... I pretty much aways have cooked, unpolished rice in my refrigerator for 2 reasons, 1-my dog eats it with ground chicken every night and 2-I personally use it to throw together quick and HEALTHY meals on any given day of the week. So I always have it on hand. If you do not, you will either need to make it from scratch or use any other kind of leftover rice you have in the fridge. Sometimes, it is a great substitute for breadcrumbs, but you can also just add more breadcrumbs until it comes together to the right consistency. It's your choice... The most important part is to not over mix it, and make sure it stays a little wet. If you put too much breadcrumbs in, it makes the meatballs more dense.
Moving on... Cut your celery and onions in the same size, a rather small dice. These will get distributed throughout the meatballs adding SO much flavor! It's one of my all-time favorite tricks with both meatballs and meatloaf. And I occasionally use it in burgers as well.
In a pan with 1 T warm olive oil, toss in your celery & onion mixture and cook on medium-low for 5-7 minutes. You want them to become translucent but still have some texture to them. Coving with a lid helps it cook faster and keep moisture in.
While that is cooking, grate your zucchini. In a wide shallow bowl, set a kitchen towel or 4 layers of paper towels and then cover it with the zucchini. push it down flat in an even layer and let that sit for a while until as much liquid as possible can seep out. If using paper towels you may need to change your first 4 sheets for another 4 sheets, repeat the pressing in order to really get it all out. If using a kitchen towel, you can ring out as much liquid as possible over the sink.
Once the celery/onion mixture is done, remove it onto a pate to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, put all of your ingredients except the breadcrumbs and cooked rice. First mix these ingredients gently. Once everything is evenly mixed in, you can now control the moisture and texture with the breadcrumbs & rice. Bring that all together with another good, but gentle mix. Place in the fridge for 1 hour. It's easier to roll them out when the meat is cold. I almost always make my meatballs each weigh between 60-80 grams. Its a nice size for cooking in a pan and not having the center be raw, while the outside is well browned.
Before cooking them, it's best to have the meatballs sit outside of the fridge for about 30 minutes. When they are room temperature, they can cook more evenly. So, I either roll mine and leave them out of the fridge after. Or, if I make these earlier in the day, I pull the already-rolled meatballs out of the fridge before cooking.
When ready to cook, in a pan with hot oil, cook on a medium heat on both sides of the "ball". Once they get placed in the pan they become less round from their own weight while cooking. I cook on both sides about 4 minutes and by then the middle is also cooked through. Sometimes I turn the fire off and place a lid on to keep them warm and that can also finish cooking through the middle as well.
Some people want two meatballs, some want more.....you can choose!