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Tapas-Style Turkey Meatballs

Tapas-Style Turkey Meatballs
Photo by Tom McCorkle and food styling by Bonnie S Benwick; for The Washington Post


These Spanish-style mini- turkey meatballs in a smoky, tangy tomato sauce are toothpick friendly so they make for a perfect party food, and they are also a satisfying meal served in a bowl with a simple side salad and a hunk of crusty bread. Using a mix of white and dark meat turkey keeps these meatballs lean and well in the healthy zone, but ensures they are also quite moist and tender.


Tapas-Style Turkey Meatballs



1 pound ground turkey, all dark meat or a mix of light and dark (92 or 93 percent lean)
1/3 cup dried whole-grain bread crumbs
1 small onion, half of it minced and half of it cut into small dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/4 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika (sweet; pimenton)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
15 ounces canned, no-salt-added tomato sauce
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
Pinch cayenne pepper, or more as needed



Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, the minced onion, half of the garlic, the egg, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of the smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the black pepper in a mixing bowl, then use your clean hands to mix and create a well-blended mixture. Form into 24 small meatballs of equal size (about 1 inch in diameter). Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (to firm up).

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add half the chilled meatballs to the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes, turning them two or three times, until they are browned all over. Transfer them to a plate. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet, then repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding them to the others once they’re browned.

Reduce the heat to medium; add the diced onion to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until it has softened a bit. Add the remaining garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.

Add the tomato sauce (it will sizzle and splatter a bit), the vinegar and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the cayenne pepper. Once the sauce mixture is bubbling, reduce the heat to medium-low; carefully return all the meatballs to the skillet, tossing to coat them (the sauce will not cover the meatballs). Cover the skillet and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and reducing the heat further as needed, until the meatballs are cooked through, and adding water a tablespoon at a time to loosen the sauce if it seems too thick. Taste, and add a bit more cayenne, as needed.

Makes 6-12 Servings (24 Meatballs)

Per serving (2 meatballs): Calories 120; Total Fat 7g; (Sat Fat 2g); Protein 9g; Carb 5g; Fiber 0g; Cholesterol 45mg; Sodium 240mg; Total Sugar 2g


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