Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tapenade Turkey Meatballs

When I was at the state fair last year, I picked up some recipe cards from The Pampered Chef, and this was one of them (you can view the video here). These are the best meatballs I've ever had!! They're packed with so much flavor, yet much easier to whip up than you think.  My mom and I made this together last night and served it over pasta.  It was absolutely incredible. And get this: they're made in the microwave.  Yeah.  Because they're cooked in the microwave, they only cook for 7 minutes!!  Usually meatballs are cooked in the oven for like 30-45 minutes; these are way less time consuming.  I can't believe how tender and juicy the meat was, and it was lean turkey, too.  I now like turkey meatballs better than beef ones.  Way better.  I don't think I'm gonna even like beef meat balls the next time I have them.  And the Spinach & Olive Tapenade in this recipe - SO flavorful!  I don't like olives, and I'm not a big fan of capers, so I didn't think I'd care for this recipe too much.  But the olive and caper flavors blended really well with all the other ingredients, so it tasted amazing.  I served the remaining tapenade on sliced french bread and melted some cheese on top.  I also had it as a dip with red pepper slices - so delicious.  Another thing my family did with some of the meatballs was make a meatball sandwich.  Ohmygoodness everything was just so good!!  My dad said we're never going out to eat again because everything I make is ten times better than anything he's ever had in a restaurant.

Yield: About 20 meatballs


Spinach & Olive Tapenade:
1 package (6 oz/175 g) fresh spinach leaves (about 8 cups/2 L)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons drained capers
1/4 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-in pieces
3/4 cup (175 mL) pitted green olives
1/4 cup (50 mL) loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 slice soft sandwich bread (whole wheat or white)
1 cup prepared Spinach & Olive Tapenade (see above), divided
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lb (450 g) 93% lean ground turkey

1.  For tapenade, place spinach into a large bowl.  Microwave on high 2-3 minutes or until spinach is wilted.  Carefully remove lid; press spinach to side of bowl (I just drained it in a colander).  Blot excess moisture with paper towels.  Place garlic, capers, bell pepper, and olives in food processor; cover and pump handle until coarsely chopped.  Add spinach, basil, cheese, oil, lemon juice and salt; process to desired consistency, removing lid and scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Use 1 cup for meatballs.  Set aside remaining tapenade for another use.
2.  For meatballs, tear bread; place in food processor.  Cover and pump handle until finely chopped.  Combine bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of the remaining tapenade, egg, and salt in a medium bowl; mix well.  Add turkey, mix well.
3.  Using slightly mounded medium scoop (I used an ice cream scooper), scoop 20 meatballs directly into a pan in rows.  Cover with parchment paper and microwave on high 7-9 minutes or until internal temperature of meatballs reaches 160 degrees F (71 degrees C)
4. Place remaining 1/2 cup tapenade in large bowl.  Transfer meatballs to bowl using tongs and toss gently to coat.  Serve with pasta if desired.

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