These juicy Baked Turkey Zucchini Meatballs are made with grated zucchini to create perfectly tender meatballs with an extra boost of fiber. Perfect for an easy weeknight dinner!
Ground turkey breast is one of my favorite types of lean protein because it is literally a blank canvas just waiting to be transformed by my imagination. When cooking with ground turkey, I love discovering new and creative ways to incorporate extra flavor and moisture.
If you fail to consider those two factors, you will end up with a dry and tasteless dish. The reason traditional Italian meatballs are so tasty is because they are made with three types of meat: ground veal, ground pork and ground beef. Why do these meats taste so good? One word: fat. And we all know that fat = flavor. But don’t worry – Liz to the rescue!
Benefits of Using Zucchini
Grating zucchini into turkey meatballs is a perfect way to keep the lean protein tender and juicy with the added bonus of sneaking in extra vitamin C, magnesium and fiber.
Because of the high water content in squash, you also add very little extra calories. In addition, zucchini is high in antioxidants and great for heart health and digestion.
How do I avoid frying meatballs to cut down the calories?
Broil them for a few minutes on each side before simmering in the sauce. This cooking method doesn’t require any extra fat and helps create a brown crust to lock in flavor. Fat is not the enemy, but I would much rather drizzle the finished dish with extra virgin olive oil than waste hundreds of calories simply browning the meatballs.
What’s a good substitute for ground turkey?
I love ground turkey because it’s lean and rich in nutrients, but you could also use ground beef, lamb, or bison.
The final touch is to add plenty of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh basil at the very end. Serve over whole wheat pasta or with a piece of crusty bread – perfect for mopping up the tangy sauce.
Other Meatball options:
Your fork is waiting
Baked Turkey Zucchini Meatballs
- 1 pound ground turkey breast
- ½ medium zucchini (grated – squeeze out excess water with paper towel)
- 2 tablespoon onion (grated)
- ¼ cup parsley (chopped)
- 2 tablespoon sundried tomatoes packed in oil (finely chopped)
- ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (grated)
- 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated pepper
Tomato Basil Sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion (diced)
- ½ remaining zucchini (chopped & optional)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 58 ounces whole peeled tomatoes (each can should be around 24oz)
- 1 cup fresh basil (loosely packed and finely sliced )
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat broiler to 500 degrees or High.
- Line broiler pan with foil and spray with non-fat cooking spray.
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and shape into 20 balls.
- (Quick tip: score meat into 4 sections and form five balls in each section.)
- Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side and reserve.
- Meanwhile, in a large sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat and saute onion for 3 minutes adding a bit of salt and pepper to release juices.
- Add zucchini if using and continue to saute 3-4 minutes.
- Add red pepper flakes if using.
- When vegetables are tender, add crushed garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn garlic – it will ruin the dish and you will have to start over.
- Add both cans of whole peeled tomatoes and their juices.
- Using scissors, quickly chop the tomatoes in the pan. See how easy that was? No mess. :)
- Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
- Add the meatballs and half of the basil.
- Simmer for 20 minutes or as long as you have – the longer the better.
- Check for seasoning adding salt and pepper as needed.
- Garnish with extra grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh basil before serving.
Want more healthy dinner ideas? Head over to Pinterest!