These turkey meatballs, so says Jessie Ware, “are light as a feather and seem to invite a confession – like when my dear friend, the singer/songwriter Sam Smith, explained they thought Mexico was in Spain, while we fed these beauties to them.”

Turkey meatballs in a tomato sauce
(Ola O Smit/PA)
Turkey meatballs in a tomato sauce
Print Recipe
Nutrition Facts
Turkey meatballs in tomato sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 289 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 85mg28%
Sodium 1128mg49%
Potassium 555mg16%
Carbohydrates 16g5%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 22g44%
Vitamin A 457IU9%
Vitamin C 15mg18%
Calcium 179mg18%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Turkey meatballs in tomato sauce

A guaranteed crowd-pleaser
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6
Calories: 289kcal
Author: Jessie and Lennie Ware


  • 50 g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 75 ml whole milk
  • 500 g minced turkey thighs
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed or finely grated
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 40 g pecorino or Parmesan cheese plus extra to serve finely grated
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano or 1tsp dried oregano
  • About ¼ nutmeg freshly grated
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

For the tomato sauce:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tbsp (heaped) tomato purée
  • 1 tsp paprika (mild or hot)
  • 800 g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large handful of basil leaves
  • 0.5 - 1 tsp caster sugar (optional)
  • Salt and pepper


  • First, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or shallow casserole over a medium heat. Add the onion and a good pinch of salt and gently fry for five to 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and fry for two minutes, then stir in the tomato purée and paprika and cook for another two minutes.
  • Tip in the tomatoes and chopped basil, then gently simmer for 20 minutes. Taste to check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and a little sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes if needed.
  • Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Place the breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl and pour over the milk. Add the turkey, garlic, lemon zest, egg, cheese, oregano, nutmeg, salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Using your hands, gently combine, taking care not to overmix. With wet hands, gently shape the mixture into about 20 small-medium meatballs (about the size of golf balls – roughly 40g each and 5cm in diameter).
  • Gently drop the meatballs into the simmering sauce, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, turning them after about 10 minutes and giving the pan a shake from time to time.
  • Remove the lid and simmer for another five minutes. Serve the meatballs with the basil leaves and a grating of pecorino or Parmesan.


Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 85mg | Sodium: 1128mg | Potassium: 555mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 457IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 179mg | Iron: 4mg

Table Manners: The Cookbook by Jessie and Lennie Ware, photography by Ola O Smit, is published by Ebury Press.


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