My other half & I recently returned from a European vacation and meatballs were on the menu everywhere in Greece. Let me tell you, these people do not play when it comes to their meatballs! I’m slightly embarrassed to admit how many times I ordered them over the course of our stay but they were simply addicting!
When I’m at home I don’t eat a lot of pork or beef but ‘when in Rome’ right? Some of the best we tasted were from small mom and pop restaurants that have been around for many years. These places have slowly perfected their recipes over decades and often it’s still the same person turning them out every.single.day.
When we got back to San Francisco we were still craving greek meatballs like nobodies business. I told myself when I got home I going to try and eat better; as a result, I kiboshed our guilty pleasure. We had just spent five weeks without a care in the world, eating and drinking whatever the hell we wanted! It was epic & wonderful but it was time we practiced a little self control. That concept was a big fat FAIL! My fiancé accused me of starving him (really?) so I challenged myself to make a lighter recipe without sacrificing the flavor.
Leaner meats like ground turkey and chicken require you to extra flavor and moisture, to avoid tasting bland & dry. As you can see, I’ve added 2 eggs and a few dashes of Lee & Perrins to add some moisture to the meatballs as well as a powerhouse of flavorful ingredients. I love this Turkey Meatball with Fennel & Carrot recipe because its so satisfying and you don’t have to feel crazy guilty about eating it.
One of go-to ingredients is fennel, which also happens to be a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. The vegetables distinct flavor is slightly sweet and reminiscent of licorice. Fennel is closely related to dill, cilantro, carrots & parsley and its texture is crunchy like celery. It’s been shown to reduce inflammation and is also very good source of Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.
I enjoy fennel raw or cooked in salads, soups, sauces, sautéed and roasted. The options are virtually endless! It is such a versatile ingredient and something you should really consider having on hand. It’s definitely a star in this recipe as we use both the diced fennel bulb and chopped fennel fronds. My version of the meatball was totally inspired by my semi obsession with fennel and I had the rest of the ingredients in the fridge and freezer.
I often freeze half the batch because it’s too much for two people. I get a strange pleasure from making two meals at once. These freezer friendly meatballs are great to defrost for a quick weeknight meal. Can I get a ‘whaaaat whaaaat’ from the busy people out there? Try serving these with roasted veggies or a simple salad for a healthy alternative to meatballs and pasta.
- 1 lb lean ground turkey
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ¾ cup plain whole wheat bread crumbs (+ a little bit more to even out texture if needed)
- ¾ cup low sodium chicken stock
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup fennel, finely diced
- ¼ cup fennel fronds, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup carrot, finely diced
- ½ cup onion, finely diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3 large dashes Lee & Perrins
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, optional
- 2 tbsp of dried meatball mix (dried basil, oregano, parsley, mint, cumin, thyme and onion)
- Combine turkey, breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic, fennel, carrot, onion in a large bowl and toss lightly with spoon.
- Add dried herbs, fresh rosemary and a few dashes of L&P.
- Mix with clean hands, making sure the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Roll mixture into meatballs and place on clean plate.
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.
- When hot, add meatballs and turn after 4 minutes or, until brown on both sides.
- Add ½ cup chicken stock, cover, turn the heat to low and let simmer until most of the liquid evaporates (about 10 min).
- Remove lid, add the remaining chicken stock, turn heat to medium and cook for a 2 minutes.
- Serve hot!