Turkey and fennel meatballs with spaghetti

25 Mar

turkey meatballs
Our family never ate spaghetti and meatballs when I was growing up – there was spaghetti bolognese, there were rissoles, but never “spaghetti and meatballs”. I have never ordered them in a restaurant, and never cooked them in my own kitchen. Until last week.

Last week I made my first batch of meatballs – they were tiny, teaspoon sized, bite sized, perfectly sized for big mouths and for the little mouth. They were fennel and garlic flavoured, and baked to a crisp brown with lashings of tomato and garlic sauce, sitting atop spaghetti. And I wondered… “why have I never made these before?”

I have a moment, with anything like this, where I start to mix with the spoon. But really, it is best to just get your hands in there from the outset and squish and mix and enjoy being really involved with the food.

The main change I made to the original recipe was to bake the meatballs instead of pan-frying and simmering them. Is that against meatball rules? Why add the extra fat and effort when the oven can do all the work? I think these little morsels would be great as a canapé, with a sweet chili sauce, a smoky tomato sauce or a herby yoghurt sauce. And so much easier if you can have them prepared and just pop them in the oven 20 mins before serving.

Thanks so much to the people who follow my post – I am really humbled and inspired by your interest, comments and feedback. This one goes out to you and your family Khash-man!

 Adapted from Lottie and Doof


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, very finely diced

3 large garlic cloves, pressed or very finely diced

2 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp freshly ground salt

½ tsp freshly ground pepper

800g tin crushed tomatoes

½ cup dried breadcrumbs

Zest of ½ a lemon

¼ cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped

1 tsp rosemary, finely chopped

500g turkey mince

1 egg

500g spaghetti

¼ cup basil leaves, sliced

Freshly shaved or grated parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and fennel seeds and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for a few more minutes before transferring half of the onion mixture to a large mixing bowl.

Add the tomatoes to the remaining onion mixture in the pan and set on a low heat to simmer.

For the meatballs, combine the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, parsley, thyme and rosemary with the onion mixture in the bowl.

Add the turkey and egg to the same bowl and squish and mix it together, Jamie Oliver style.

Using a teaspoon of mixture, form bite-sized balls and place on paper-lined tray.

Bake for 20mins, turning meatballs once at 10mins.

While the meatballs bake, cook the spaghetti according to packet directions.
To serve, coil the spaghetti on the plate, top with tomato sauce, meatballs, a little more sauce and basil leaves. Add a sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper and parmesan if desired.


One Response to “Turkey and fennel meatballs with spaghetti”

  1. Mum March 25, 2013 at 4:37 am #

    Sounds like some missed opportunities for me while you and Deb were growing up. Why did I never think of “spaghetti and meatballs”!!! At least our little grandson will enjoy this experience…well done Marc.

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