Giada’s Turkey Meatballs

I’ve been noticing lately that there are several necessary components for overcoming the dreary task known as “getting through winter.”  Here’s an ever-changing but most current list of  “what I need”.

1. Downton Abbey-I won’t be a spoiler but the last episode is still haunting me. Have you seen it yet?

2. A good long book to tuck into-This year it’s Ken Follett’s (ever the perv but, man, can he weave a historical tale) Winter of the World.  Last year it was Fall of Giants and the year before, World Without End.  I’m developing a pattern here.  I don’t know what I’ll do if there isn’t a new one next year.  War and Peace perhaps?


3. A snow day!  Finally we were granted one on Monday.  Well, really it was an ice day so it wasn’t so pretty, but still, I stayed home and did nothing but the above.  And I made Deb’s ethereally smooth hummus. Ok, so, it was my hummus recipe but I took her advice and peeled the chickpeas and garnished with sumac. Yep, it was pretty smooth.

4.  Music-Last weekend was Ann Arbor Folkfest and I discovered some new bands to follow: The Head and the Heart, Brown Bird and Delta Rae.  And he’s not really new but now I know why Colin Hay sells out two nights in a row every year at the Ark. I’ve been missing out all this time. And there was Jill’s birthday earlier in the month.  In two weeks, there’ll be my beloved Avett Brothers where I’ll likely scream like a teenager. Do you know these “roots-y” dudes from North Carolina?  You should.

5. And comfort food. Obviously. On the aforementioned snow day, I made meatballs.  What could be more comforting?

(And I’d like it to be known that on my computer, these food photos are far less yellow.  I need to figure that out for future photos).


These are Giada’s.  They’re so moist that the first time I made them I almost chucked them in the trash before they were done.  As I was putting those wet globs (that sounds appetizing!) into the sizzling oil, I thought to myself “this is just not going to work.”  Was I ever wrong.  They are as succulent and delicate a version as one could wish for.  I change them only slightly by adding crushed red pepper, swapping romano for parmesan and making a bit more than the recipe calls for.  Pine nuts would be a welcome addition as well. I also make her marinara.  I use half with the meatballs and freeze the rest for her chicken parmesan another night.  You could use your favorite jarred marinara.  Nobody will judge.

Serves 6.  Adapted from Everyday Italian, Giada di Laurentiis.

For the marinara

  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 2 peeled carrots, finely diced
  • 2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. sea (or Kosher) salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high flame.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes.  Stir frequently to avoid burning the garlic.

Add the carrots and celery and sauté for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft (crunchy celery in sauce is the worst).

Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and stir.  Simmer over low heat for at least an hour or until the sauce thickens some. Remove the bay leaves.

Cool before freezing if you intend to have leftovers.

For the meatballs

  • 1 1.25 lb. package ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used whole grain, but panko would be nice)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Mix all ingredients, except olive oil, in a large bowl.  It’s easiest to use your hands but try not to overmix.  Just make sure all ingredients are incorporated throughout.

Make bite-sized meatballs by using a scant tablespoon of meat mixture and rolling them between your hands.

Place them in a large skillet preheated with 1/4 cup olive oil.  Brown them in batches on all sides, approximately 3 minutes per side.  They do not have to be cooked all the way through.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Once the meatballs are done, add them back to the pan along with half the marinara (about 4 cups).  If the marinara is too thick, add a bit of water at this point.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Cut into a meatball or two to make sure they are cooked through before serving.

Serve with a tossed green salad and crusty bread.


What gets you through winter?


About Liza M.

foodie, francophile, Ann Arborite, teacher, bookworm and self-professed latte-lover--come cook with me!
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12 Responses to Giada’s Turkey Meatballs

  1. Pat says:

    As always, I’m more interested in your photographs and dialogue than the recipes, and you don’t disappoint with either.
    1. I’m a Downton Abbey fan, too, and I thought the episode was authentic.
    2. Timing. I was told today that Winter of the World is the sequel to the much earlier Pillars of the Earth, and that the other two books you mentioned are part of his next series, so there will be another Follett book in your future. I’m not sure it will be next year, though.
    3. Hummus. Dipped grape tomatoes in it for dinner tonight. No kidding. The hummus was store-bought, but delicious. (peel chickpeas!?)
    4. Music. I’m listening to Rick Lahmann’s Piano Reflections, purchased last fall at his Fishtown shop in Leland last fall. Soothing.
    5. Comfort Food. The meatballs sound great. Here is my story:
    We went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch the other day. I ordered a cheese quesadilla a la carte and a Margarita. The young man came back and asked, as I was putting the last bite of quesadilla into my mouth, if I wanted another, and I said, yes, please! He came back with another Margarita! We laughed heartily at that – and I drank it. 2 for 1 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Oh, yes, I also got a second quesadilla. Next stop was a long Margarita-induced nap. (Now, you might be asking yourself, what’s the big deal re: two Margaritas. Trust me, for me, it was a huge deal.)
    6. What gets me through winter? I’m just glad to be able to make it to winter, as the years fly by.
    Love you!

    • Liza M. says:

      Hi Pat! Actually, World Without End is the sequel to Pillars and Winter of the World (about WW2) is the sequel to Fall of Giants (WWI). They are all excellent! Thanks for the mega comment 😉

  2. Barb says:

    Another thoughtful and thought provoking post . . . Yummy, warming dinners with good friends (such as your fine self) and good conversation get me through the winter. Meatballs sound faboo!

  3. Liza M. says:

    Yes absolutely. Dinners with Friends. I think it warrants its own post. Still thinking about your drip beef!

  4. Andy B. says:

    What a coincidence! I was just thinking about Giada.

  5. I recently read Deb’s hummus post too, and although I’m sure the peeling does make it extra smooth, I can’t see myself ever justifying the work. My hummus “trick” to get it really creamy is that I simmer canned chickpeas to make sure they’re extra soft before pureeing. Some of the skins come off in the process, but I don’t get fussy about it. The other trick (not really a secret since it’s in many recipes) is using the cooking liquid to thin it out. I find if I do both those things, I get it just about as smooth as restaurant hummus.

    Did you see the Avett Bros. at CityFest in Detroit a couple years ago? I think it was the last year of the festival before they cancelled it… such a bummer, it was my favorite of all the area festivals.

    • Liza M. says:

      Actually, I found peeling the chickpeas kind of relaxing but definitely “snow day” work. I might try your simmering method next but not-quite-so-smooth hummus doesn’t bother me. As long as it’s homemade! And, no, I don’t think I was yet aware of the Avett Bros. at that time. I saw them at the Fillmore last spring. They are SO amazing live. Bummer that festival is gone.

  6. Samuel DeMarco says:

    I bet people dig your writing and pics!

  7. Sara Louise says:

    Fall of Giants is sitting on my bookshelf just waiting to be read. I love Ken Follett. And Downton Abby! Oh Downton! I saw the episode on Christmas night and I’m still a mess!

  8. I just watched the finale last night. I DID NOT see that coming at all! There were so many red-herrings in that episode.

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