Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cloak, Dagger, and Meatballs - A Family Sunday Recipe

On Facebook the other day a good friend of mine posted a request for family friendly healthy dinner ideas. As a half-dozen ideas popped in my head I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by these two thoughts:
  1. She works long hours with a long commute (i.e. little time at home)
  2. She has an elementary-school age child (would he eat what I eat?) 
So I started thinking more strategically... what takes relatively little time to make, is healthy enough to satisfy adults and tasty enough to satisfy kids? The answer was clear. Big, flashing neon sign clear.
Turkey meatballs.

Wait! Don't wrinkle your nose and walk away just yet! These are not boring, tasteless meatballs. These meatballs are fragrant, lightly spiced and loaded with veggies. But hidden vegetables so kids (hopefully) won't run screaming from the dinner table. Secret spy vegetables. Ninja vegetables. Yeah... that's it... ninjas.

Turkey Meatball Base - makes approximately 3 dozen
1lb ground turkey
1 small onion, yield 1/2 cup grated
1 small zucchini, yield 1/2 cup grated
1 medium carrot, yield 1/4 cup grated

Spice Mix
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1.5 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sriracha (hot sauce)
dash Chinese Five-Spice powder
dash black pepper

Stir-Fry Sauce
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon white rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon grated garlic
pinch red pepper flakes - optional

Notes before you start: If making stir-fry vegetables add the sauce to the pan in the last minute of cooking. Since it will reduce slightly I strongly suggest using low-sodium soy sauce and no added salt or you may find the dish to be unpleasantly over-salted. These meatballs will easily pick up whatever spice combination you want to throw at them (ninjas, remember?) so try using rosemary and finely minced garlic to add to your favorite tomato sauce or sage, thyme and nutmeg to use as an autumnal stuffing for squash bowls. I also make mini ones and love them dropped (fully cooked) into vegetable based soups.

Preheat oven to 400º F. Line a cookie sheet with foil and lightly mist with olive oil or pan spray.

Using a grater or food processor finely grate the onion, carrot and zucchini. Combine with the ground turkey and add the spice mix. Mix well.
Form into meatballs and place, evenly spaced, on the cookie sheet. Immediately lower heat to 375º F and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Serve over brown rice with steamed or stir-fried vegetables.

These meatballs are also easily portable for those who bring their lunch to work and can be frozen (up to one month) making them an easy item to make on a Sunday for the week ahead.



  1. Ooh, these look tasty! And like a great lunch to bring, which I do 5 days a week. Thanks for the recipe! :)

  2. Love these! They look so good. I love how you do see the little veggies in the meatballs! Such a great alternative to heavier meatballs all covered in sauce!

  3. My daughter would LOVE these! I love adding veggies to meatballs as well.

  4. I was wondering what would make these secret or spy. Great idea. Love the phrase "ninja vegetables" Think I might have to try these.

  5. I love cooking with ground turkey and these are definitely on my "to try" list. Yum!

  6. These sound fantastic! I love the amount of veggies in them

  7. This looks like a great recipe and thanks for the reminder that I do need to get into the whole ground turkey thing. This asian inspired dish does have a lot of great ingredients and I like how you incorporated veggies into the meatballs.
    I have saved these recipes and look forward to enjoying these meatballs. Yum!

  8. The additional of veggies in those meatballs is genius! I love this. I'm pocketing this for my next meatball night :)

  9. Oh, yum! I love your Asian inspired meatballs...and double bonus that they have some veggies in them for moisture and deliciousness :)

  10. And a super-smart super-ninja mom with limited time would work up a triple batch of 'balls, work them through the baked stage, use one batch for tonight's dinner while the rest cool, then while doing dishes have jr. ninja pack them in zippy-bags for the freezer for a quick reheat next week. Cook once, eat 3 times, is a working mom's sanity.

  11. Ninja veggies made me LOL. These sound great though--I'll bet I could get my super picky grown up friends to enjoy these as well.

  12. These look amazing! I love hiding veggies in the something that you would not think about. I eat veggies all of the time but my motto is you can never have too many. Cannot wait to try out this recipe.

  13. These look so delicious! I love the veggies that you added in the meatballs, it's a great idea! I think a kid would LOVE to eat this!

  14. Great that you linked in, thanks. have a good one

  15. Your picture alone makes me want to try this. Thanks for sharing. It looks amazing.



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