Spaghettini with Turkey-Mushroom Meatballs

Since I started my grad program I have taken very little time to prepare a special meal just for myself. Now that it's spring break and my friends are away (or sadly enough, even harder at work than I am on take-home exams) I had the opportunity to make myself a nice dinner. I have been craving spaghetti for weeks (one of my favorite foods of all time) and I wanted to put a twist on it. To make a healthy yet unique version, I used white meat turkey and sauteed mushrooms to make flavorful meatballs. I made a simple tomato sauce and used whole wheat spaghettini (thin spaghetti) for more fiber.

I'm really pleased with the fact that I had the patience to roll all the meatballs. I have honestly attempted to make spaghetti and meatballs before, but get fed up and end up crumbling the meat in the sauce. Patience is a virtue that I don't possess. Anyway, these turned out so well I'm glad I took the extra time to make the flavorful meat mixture. Really it wasn't as much trouble as I anticipated since I wrapped the pan with foil for easy clean-up. Baking the meat was less fussy than cooking the meatballs in a skillet, where I would need to stand at the stove, flipping each meatball. I want to try the meatballs as a sub sandwich next, with melted mozzarella cheese on top!

Spaghettini with Turkey-Mushroom Meatballs
Printable Recipe

For the meatballs:

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
10 oz button or cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 lb ground white meat turkey
2 tbsp plain bread crumbs
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped parsley
dash nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
non-stick cooking spray

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until warm, then add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender. Set the cooked vegetables aside until they are cool before proceeding (can be made up to two days in advance and refrigerated).
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Add the cooked vegetables and the remaining meatball ingredients to a bowl. Combine all the ingredients and form into 24 meatballs.
4. Arrange the meatballs on a sheet tray lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 15-20 minutes or until they are cooked through. Add them to the sauce, recipe follows:

For the sauce:

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
pinch sugar, or to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

1 lb whole wheat spaghettini
Parmesan cheese, for garnish

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the garlic and onion and saute until tender.
2. Pour in the tomatoes and add the herbs and some salt and pepper. Allow to simmer 20-30 minutes (while you prepare and bake the meatballs).
3. Cook the pasta according to package directions in boiling salted water.
4. Toss the cooked pasta in a little sauce, then arrange the meatballs and extra sauce on top of the pasta. Serve, garnished with a little extra Parmesan cheese, if desired.

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