Baked, spiced turkey meatballs – the most comforting Sunday night food to sink into…

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Tender turkey meatballs packed with cumin, cayenne, paprika & parsley, baked alongside sunset yolked eggs in a sweet, juicy, fat garlic clove studded tomato sauce.

And that my friends, is how you do healthy food in an exciting, delicious, simple, clean & elegant manner.

No fuss. No hunting for obscure ingredients that are hard to find and then once found, hard to imagine using again. No epic list of processes that begin two days before you want to eat the damn dish and most importantly of all, no lack of flavours, textures or colours with which to tempt your palate, your taste-buds and your eyes.

If you’ve been looking for something fresh & comforting that you can make to sustain, feed & maybe even impress the ones you love, this is the recipe for you.

Ready?

Let’s go…

Saturday mornings were made for James Martin and ‘Saturday Kitchen’. Whether you’re actually scrambling, poaching or grilling something tasty in your kitchen, sullying every dish you own en route or merely spooning your way through a box of Frosties, Chocolate Shreddies or Honey Nut Loops (a personal childhood favourite of Edible Angel) while supine on the sofa, bowl balancing on your chest & milk pooling dangerously close to your chin, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a Saturday morning state of mind.

This dish is adapted from a Rick Stein recipe that was shown recently and which is called ‘Kefta Mkawra’, translating as spicy egg, meatball & tomato tagine. It’s quick, it’s uncomplicated, it’s healthy, it transforms the simple meatball into something you’ll want to eat again & again and using turkey mince means you can reduce the fat content by a considerable amount making it a substantially healthier alternative.

I personally love lamb mince and think it’s a gorgeous way to make your own burgers or chilli but there’s no denying that it is a (delicious) fattier meat so when you’re after something lower in calories that will absorb whatever flavours you pair it with, turkey ticks both those boxes. It’s lean so you don’t want to over-cook it – there’s not many things sadder on a plate that tiny, dry wizened meatballs that should be plump and inviting – but I promise this is a dish that you will want to mop up every last drop of with some crusty bread.

Ok, ok, you can lick the plate, I won’t tell.

Turkey is a meat bursting with health benefits; in 125g (which is how much this recipe calls for per person) there is approximately 35 grams of protein which helps build muscle & keep you full for longer. It’s no coincidence that athletes & bodybuilders eat huge amounts of turkey & chicken everyday but have no fear, it’s probably going to take a little more than one serving of this dish to turn you into the Rock’s stunt double.

Low in fat, that same portion size will only cost you around 170 calories while boosting your immune system with B vitamins, potassium, zinc, iron & selenium. It’s also a great option for dinner as it packs a punch of tryptophan, an amino acid that generates serotonin which will help you sleep. This, alongside the eggs, garlic, tomatoes & spices mean you’ll be serving up the ultimate in good-for-you-good-for-your-body food with this dish so let’s get ready to rumble!*

*Sorry…I was still painfully ensconced in a ‘The-Rock-bodybuilding-mindset’…promise it won’t happen again.

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

  • 4 free range eggs
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

MEATBALLS:

  • 250g lean turkey mince
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper

SAUCE:

  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbs tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, each chopped in half lengthwise
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt & pepper

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METHOD

  • Pre-heat your oven to 400F/200C/gas mark 6
  • In a large bowl combine all of your meatball ingredients – mince, parsley, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt & pepper – and mix well with your hands until everything is combined (you may find slightly damp hands easier to work the meat with).
  • Once everything is mixed, form into small balls, roughly 1 inch across – you can see from the photos that exact sizing is not a deal-breaker (!) as long as the difference isn’t too great as you do want everything to cook evenly.

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  • In a large shallow frying pan or tagine, heat 2 tbsp of your olive oil and brown the meatballs on all sides – I did use a tagine so be careful as the ceramic gets hot hot quite quickly which you may not anticipate if you don’t often cook in this type of dish.
  • Once they’re all evenly coloured, remove from the pan using a slotted spoon if possible so as not to take all the oil with them and keep warm on a plate under tinfoil while you create your sauce.

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  • In your pan, add the last tbsp of oil plus your diced onion and cook on a low heat for 10-12 minutes until soft and golden.
  • Add your garlic cloves – you don’t want to put them in too early i.e. with the onions as garlic, even in larger chunks, can burn quickly.

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  • Add your remaining sauce ingredients – tomatoes, puree & spices – stir once or twice well to combine but try not to smash up your tomato chunks.
  • Leave to simmer gently for approximately 15-20 minutes; you’re looking for a thicker consistency with a rich depth of flavour. You’ll want to season to taste with the salt & pepper and if you feel it’s getting a touch dry, don’t be afraid to add a small amount of warm water to loosen it up a touch.

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  • Once you’ve got to that stage, add your meatballs to the pan then spoon the tomato mixture over and around them.

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  • If you have been using an oven-proof dish like a tagine, continue with this dish. If you’ve been using a frying pan, you’ll now need to transfer everything in it to a large oven-proof dish.
  • Using a spoon, make 4 shallow craters in the tomato mixture and crack an egg into each one.

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  • Bake in the pre-heated oven until the eggs are just set; this could take up to 10 minutes but be wary…the eggs cook quickly! What you want is for the whites to be set but the yolks to be gorgeously, dippably gooey with your fork or a nice piece of crusty bread.

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This is such a soul-soothing plate of food, it really is. The cayenne, paprika, red pepper & cumin give a slight eastern flavour to the dish without ever stripping it of the luscious, juicy tomato flavours or taking you too far into a spice overload, the meatballs are succulent & filling without leaving you stuffed, uncomfortable & wedged in between table & chair and those glorious spills of yolk over everything? Well, they’re simply the perfect ingredient to top it all with and a much better-for-you alternative to something more expected like cheese.

Try this spin on the time-honoured ‘meatballs in tomato sauce’, surprise yourself with how remarkably good it is and let me know if you’re now as much of a convert to it as I am…

…and remember, turkey is not just for Christmas, it’s for life. A healthy, nutritious, delicious life.

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