Through a process of elimination based on failed attempts, diets aren’t really my bag. A change in eating habits should be something that one can do long term. Personally there is no way that I could swear off bread, cheese, meat, beans, or grains for any real length of time. This is because I am a normal human being. Paleo, South Beach, Atkins, etc are just not for me. For those out there that can live without mashed potatoes, bless you. You are better than me.
Having said that, every once in a while my husband and I will try a dietary challenge, fast, or what have you in the effort to do a reset on our eating behaviors. These usually help kick certain habits, like my 2pm jones for Peanut M&Ms. We tried one last year. It was a 24 day endeavor that was pretty restrictive. Most meals consisted of a normal sized portion of turkey or chicken, twice my weight in specific vegetables, and a thimble full of a grain. While it was plenty of food, the struggle begins and ends with eating poultry twice a day every day for 24 days. There are only so many things you can do with poultry when marinades and sauces are not in the plan. Thus the recipe for turkey meatballs was hatched.
Bread was not allowed, and without breadcrumbs, meatballs tend to have the texture of cardboard. Especially turkey which does not contain a lot of fat. My solution was to substitute ground mushrooms for breadcrumbs. When you cook mushrooms, they first absorb everything in the pan, then let loose with all the liquid. My thinking is that they would do the same thing when baked. Absorb all the liquid from the turkey fat, then let loose with it near the end of cooking; resulting in a turkey meatball that doesn’t so closely resemble sawdust.
This is more a method than a recipe. the lemon zest, garlic, and thyme could be swapped out for whatever you like. Jalapeno, onion, and queso would be good for a Southwest version. Try sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and feta for Greek. We’ve even done soy sauce, ginger, and green onion for an Asian flair. When all’s said and done, they’re a great topping for salad, make them itty bitty for a quick appetizer, or big for a main. Of course, you could always do this:
Leave a comment and tell me your favorite combination!
Lemon Thyme Turkey Meatballs
I used white button mushrooms here, but any would do just as well. Pick what is most economical as the flavor won’t be coming through. When I made this recipe, I used three cloves of garlic. They ended up taking over, so have reduced it to one large clove. However, you should adjust the garlic, salt, and pepper to suite your taste. Also, the recipe below is for an average sized meatball suitable for topping pasta or salad. If you choose to make smaller or larger sized meatballs, you will have to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 8 ounces mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest (zest of one lemon)
- 3 tablespoons thyme, minced
- 1 large egg white
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a blender or food processor, add the mushrooms and garlic. Pulse until the mixture resembles large bread crumbs (see the picture above)
In a bowl add the ground mushroom mixture and the remaining ingredients. Using your squeaky clean hands mix to just combine.
Measure out 2 tablespoon/2 ounce portions of the turkey mix and roll lightly into balls. At this point, you may refrigerate them (covered) until ready. Refrigeration will help them hold together better
Heat an oven-safe pan over medium-high heat. Add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan and heat until shimmering
Cook 2-3 minutes until brown. Turn the meatballs and cook another 2 minutes until browned on the other side. Find one more uncooked “side” and brown that another 2 minutes.
Transfer the pan to the oven and finish cooking. 30 minutes or until 160 on a meat thermometer. Rest, covered, 5-8 minutes.