Penne with Turkey Meatballs

Total Time:
2 hr 20 min
30 min
1 hr 50 min

4 to 6 servings

  • 1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup grated Romano
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cups tomato sauce, recipe follows
  • 1 pound dried penne pasta
  • In a large bowl add bread crumbs milk and mix until well combined. Mix in eggs and 1/2 cup Romano cheese and mix well. Add turkey and gently combine, being careful not to overwork the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Shape into golf-size balls.

  • In a large skillet heat the oil over medium high heat. When almost smoking, add meatballs and without moving or turning the meat, allow it to brown for about 3 minutes. Turn meatballs and brown other side. Continue to cook until all sides are golden brown, about 8 minutes total. Add tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow meatballs to simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and keep warm on stove. Be careful not to overhandle the meatballs since they are soft and fragile.

  • In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain pasta in a colander. Do not rinse pasta with water since you want to retain the pasta natural starches so that the sauce will cling to the penne.

  • Remove meatballs from sauce and place in serving bowl. Pour some tomato sauce over meatballs, but leave about 1 cup of sauce in skillet. Place the cooked penne into the skillet with the remaining sauce and toss well. Pour sauced pasta into a large serving bowl. Serve alongside the meatballs.

Simple Tomato Sauce:
  • In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5-10 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer uncovered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

  • Add half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.

  • If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to six months.

  • Yield: 6 cups

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