Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

This recipe is from "Small Victories" by Julia Turshen. It makes enough for six people or, if you want leftovers, four people. Turshen’s technique of baking the meatballs before adding them to the easy-to-make sauce is her “small victory” cooking tip. She also notes that no bread crumbs or other filler is needed in the meatballs, making them gluten-free. 

— Laura Hays

A YES! Test Kitchen note is that this would be a fun recipe to cook with kids because it is truly hands-on (and of course, delicious)—read on for details.


2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes

7 tablespoons olive oil, divided

7 garlic cloves, minced, divided

Kosher salt

1 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves

1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1 ½ cups whole milk ricotta cheese

½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

2 pounds ground turkey

Pour the contents of the tomato cans into a large bowl and crush the tomatoes with your hands.  Swish a bit of water around the cans to get all the tomato juice involved. 

In a large saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil, add four cloves of the garlic and cook about one minute of medium high heat.  Add the tomatoes and a large pinch of Kosher salt.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Lower the heat and let sauce simmer until slightly reduced and thickened — about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle it with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Use your hands to rub it over the entire sheet.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the remaining garlic, basil, parsley, ricotta, Parmesan, turkey and one tablespoon Kosher salt.  Blend everything together with your hands until well mixed.  Use your hands to form mixture into 30 golf ball-sized meatballs.  Put them on the baking sheet.  Drizzle with remaining olive oil. 

Roast meatballs until they’re browned and firm to the touch — about 25 minutes.  Use tongs to transfer the meatballs into the tomato sauce.  Let them simmer about 10 minutes.

Serve over pasta with additional Parmesan, if desired.  

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