Turkey Meatballs with Spinach Sauce over Pasta

June 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm 9 comments

Pasta and meatballs – a classic comfort food. It was rainy and dreary this past weekend and I was in the need of some comfort…in the form of food. No surprise there 🙂 I love meaty tomato sauce with a bit of texture and a big serving of vegetables, and this dish is exactly that. I could even eat the sauce and the meatballs together without the pasta and still be a happy camper! Although there are only two of us at the dinner table and this dish could easily serve four, I love to make a big batch for leftovers to nosh on during the week.

If you are short on time or would prefer to use your favorite homemade or canned sauce, feel free! I like to make mine from scratch to avoid the added sugars and then I have the option to tweak the spices or herbs if I am in the mood for a change. Chris and I both like caraway seeds so I often add a teaspoon when I am sautéing the garlic for a flavor variation.

These meatballs are naturally low carb since they do not require breadcrumbs or another grain for the binding agent. Finely chopped mushrooms and parmesan along with an egg suffice in holding these meatballs together nicely! If you do not have ground turkey, you can substitute ground chicken (use dark thigh meat instead of breast meat for a higher fat content to maintain moisture) or a lean ground beef or bison with equally yummy results.

Turkey Meatballs with Spinach Sauce over Pasta


For Meatballs

1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped mushrooms
½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 egg, well beaten
1 lb ground turkey (ground chicken or beef would work here too – do not use extra lean chicken/turkey or they will be dry)

For sauce (or use your own favorite pasta sauce)

2 tsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
3 cups baby spinach, torn
1 cup mushrooms, chopped (optional but I love mushrooms!)
28-oz can diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes, no salt added
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste (I like to use 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper in this sauce for a little kick)

For serving

Gluten-free pasta of choice (about 8-12 0z, depending on how much you want to eat)
Additional grated parmesan for serving, optional


1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. For the meatballs, add all ingredients except meat in a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Break up the ground meat and carefully incorporate/fold into the parmesan mixture. Do not over mix or the meatballs will become tough. Shape into balls (I use a tablespoon for ease) and place on baking sheet. Bake for about 10-13 minutes or until no longer pink in the center, then remove from oven.
2. While meatballs are cooking, prepare the tomato sauce. Heat oil in large saucepan on medium heat, then add onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms (if using) to pan, stir and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add spinach, canned tomatoes, tomato paste and basil, then stir. Add salt and pepper for taste and cook sauce for 5 – 10 minutes over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and let simmer.
3. Once meatballs are removed from oven, add to simmering sauce.
4. Cook pasta according to directions on the package and drain. Either add pasta to serving bowls, spoon sauce with meatballs over pasta and sprinkle with parmesan OR add pasta to sauce and toss to combine, then add to bowls and sprinkle with additional parmesan*. Enjoy!

*Depending on your preference, some people prefer to toss cooked pasta with sauce prior to serving while others like to spoon their sauce over the pasta. Italian chef and restaurateur Scott Conant and other professional chefs would say that it’s imperative to toss pasta with sauce before serving to incorporate the flavors…I’m not a pro chef so I say it’s completely up to you 🙂

Entry filed under: Chicken & Poultry, Gluten Free, Main Dish, Refined Sugar Free. Tags: , , , , , .

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Food-Full.com  |  June 22, 2011 at 1:00 am

    Easy Spinach and Tomato Pasta…

    Pasta night is one of my favorites. Sauces come together just as quickly as the noodles can cook, and we’re soon sitting at the table appreciating the seasons through fresh ingredients on our plates. As we state goodbye to spri……

  • 2. Kay aka Babygirl  |  June 22, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I love using ground meat in my dishes so this turkey meatballs with spinach just looks delish! And I love the spinach with this dish as well. Great recipe.

  • 3. Judy Survetnick Rubin  |  June 23, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I cheated. Didn’t have time to make sauce so I used a jar. The meatballs were delicious and with a serving of broccolini on the side I was a happy camper.

    • 4. naturalnoshing  |  June 24, 2011 at 11:35 am

      You didn’t cheat : ) you still made meatballs from scratch!!! That still counts for something in my eyes, so glad you enjoyed them!

  • 5. Peggy  |  June 26, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    We’re actually having a pasta night tonight! This dish sounds delicious and I’ll definitely keep it in mind for our next pasta dinner =)

  • 6. Grain-Free, Yeast-Free Mini Flax Loaf « Natural Noshing  |  September 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    […] mixture and you have a cheesy-garlic bread. I added italian seasoning to mine and served it with my turkey meatballs and tomato sauce, […]

  • 7. Spaghetti Squash N’ Greens Gratin « Natural Noshing  |  September 14, 2011 at 10:34 am

    […] tossed with my arugula and spinach pesto, sauteed chicken and mushrooms or a hearty dinner with my turkey meatballs and spinach sauce and of course more parmesan […]

  • […] eggs 2 large eggs 2 cups tomato sauce (homemade version or store bought but watch out for added sugar!) fresh or dried herbs to taste (garlic powder, […]

  • […] make a few tweaks and you’ll save yourself many unnecessary calories. These meatballs from Natural Noshing are made with finely chopped mushrooms and parmesan instead of breadcrumbs, and spinach sauce gives […]


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