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Pesto and Turkey Meatballs

Dress up plain-old pasta with easy-to-make turkey meatballs.

April 24, 2017

Dress up plain old pasta and marinara sauce with easy-to-make turkey meatballs, seasoned with Parmesan and pesto. An economical family favorite that’s perfect on a busy weeknight.

Serves four to six people.


  • 1 pound of lean, ground turkey
  • 1/3-cup grated (not shredded) Parmesan
  • 1/3-cup prepared pesto
  • 1/4-cup Italian-seasoned panko breadcrumbs (Omit for a lower carb version and add 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning.)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-and-1/2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 12-ounce package cut pasta of your choice


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F and butter or spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Pour the marinara sauce into the pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine turkey, Parmesan, pesto, panko, salt and pepper. Hands work best for this job.
  3. Using a spoon or cookie scoop, form the turkey mixture into one-tablespoon-sized balls. You should have about 30 when you are finished. Place them into the sauce. Tip: If I have time, I brown the meatballs lightly in a pan before adding them to the sauce, which renders some of the fat.
  4. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional five minutes. Note: If you don’t pre-brown the meatballs they will be on the beige side, but still delish.
  5. While the meatballs bake, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add directly into baking dish, or transfer to a bowl and pour meatballs and sauce over all.
  6. Garnish with shredded Parmesan, and serve with garlic bread and a crisp, green salad.


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