Recipe: Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Turkey meatballs in tomato sauce are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Here's a recipe by Jessie Ware
Recipe: Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Turkey meatballs from Table Manners: The Cookbook by Jessie and Lennie Ware (Ebury Press).  Picture: Ola O Smit/PA

THESE turkey meatballs, so says Jessie Ware, "are light as a feather and seem to invite a confession - like when my dear friend, the singer/songwriter Sam Smith, explained they thought Mexico was in Spain, while we fed these beauties to them."

These Turkey meatballs in tomato sauce are from Table Manners: The Cookbook by Jessie and Lennie Ware

Ingredients: (Serves 4-6)

50g fresh white breadcrumbs 

75ml whole milk 

500g minced turkey thighs 

2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely grated 

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon 

1 egg, beaten 

40g pecorino or Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra to serve 

2tsp finely chopped fresh oregano, or 1tsp dried oregano 

About 1/4 nutmeg, freshly grated 

1tsp fine salt freshly ground black pepper 

For the tomato sauce:

2tbsp olive oil 

1 small onion, finely diced 

2 garlic cloves, crushed 

1 heaped tbsp tomato puree 

1tsp paprika (mild or hot) 

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes 

1 large handful of basil leaves 

1/2-1tsp caster sugar (optional) 

Salt and pepper 


1. First, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a large saute pan or shallow casserole over a medium heat. Add the onion and a good pinch of salt and gently fry for five to 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and fry for two minutes, then stir in the tomato puree and paprika and cook for another two minutes.

2. Tip in the tomatoes and chopped basil, then gently simmer for 20 minutes. Taste to check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and a little sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes if needed.

3. Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Place the breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl and pour over the milk. Add the turkey, garlic, lemon zest, egg, cheese, oregano, nutmeg, salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Using your hands, gently combine, taking care not to overmix. With wet hands, gently shape the mixture into about 20 small-medium meatballs (about the size of golf balls - roughly 40g each and 5cm in diameter).

4. Gently drop the meatballs into the simmering sauce, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, turning them after about 10 minutes and giving the pan a shake from time to time.

5. Remove the lid and simmer for another five minutes. Serve the meatballs with the basil leaves and a grating of pecorino or Parmesan.

Table Manners: The Cookbook by Jessie and Lennie Ware, photography by Ola O Smit, is published by Ebury Press.

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