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    A barely cooked tomato sauce and oats give these turkey meatballs a fresh twist

    Ellie Krieger

    THE WASHINGTON POST – One of the best things you can do with big in-season tomatoes, aside from simply slicing them and eating them with extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt, is to grate them into a gloriously fresh tomato sauce.

    It’s easy and even fun to do if, like me, you tend to get a kick out of things like that. You just halve and seed the tomatoes, then grate them cut-side down on a box grater. As you grate, a lovely tomato pulp accumulates in the bowl while the tomato skins, acting as hand protectors, remain conveniently intact and are discarded at the end.

    I learned the technique from my Israeli friends who use it regularly, sometimes enjoying the grated tomato raw as a bright condiment and other times cooking it down as an ingredient, letting it cook just enough to remove its raw edge but retain its fresh essence.

    This recipe takes the latter approach, cooking the grated tomato pulp with tender, browned turkey meatballs and seasoning it with harissa, a deeply flavourful, aromatic chilli paste (which can be either mild or spicy) that is typical of Middle Eastern cuisine.

    Beside the uniquely flavourful, fresh tomato sauce in this recipe, the meatballs have a twist too – a healthful one. They are made from lean turkey bound with quick-cooking oats rather than bread crumbs, a swap that adds fibre and whole-grain nutrition to the mix, while serving to lock the moisture in the meatball.

    The result is an exciting yet comforting meal, which can be served in a bowl with a hunk of crusty bread or warm pita alongside, or ladled onto a bed of couscous or over a heap of fresh arugula leaves.

    Turkey meatballs and grated fresh tomato sauce with harissa. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

    Turkey meatballs and grated fresh tomato sauce with harissa

    Four servings

    Serve it in bowls with crusty bread or pita alongside, or over a bed of couscous or fresh arugula leaves.Cooked meatballs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days.

    Harissa can be purchased at many grocery stores, Middle Eastern markets and online.


    Four pounds ripe, fresh tomatoes

    1/2 small onion

    1/3 cup quick-cooking oats

    One large egg, lightly beaten

    Three tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

    Two medium cloves garlic (One clove finely minced and one clove thinly sliced)

    3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    One pound (90 to 94 per cent) lean ground turkey (or a mix of light and dark meat)

    Three tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    Two tablespoons harissa, or more as needed

    Slices of crusty bread or cooked couscous, for serving


    Slice the tomatoes in half crosswise and gently squeeze the seeds into a bowl. Reserve one tablespoon of the liquid from the bowl of seeds and discard the rest. Grate the tomatoes on the coarse side of a box grater set over a bowl, pressing the cut side of the tomato against the grates. Discard the skins.

    Use the same box grater to grate the onion into another medium bowl until you have about two tablespoons worth. (Keep the remaining onion for another use.) Place the oats and the reserved tomato liquid into the bowl, stir and let sit until the liquid is absorbed, one to two minutes. Add the egg, two tablespoons of the parsley, the minced garlic, half teaspoon salt and quarter teaspoon pepper and stir to combine. Add the turkey and mix with your hands to combine but avoid overmixing.

    Form the turkey mixture into 12 balls, wetting your hands with cold water if they become sticky as you work. If the meatballs seem loose, refrigerate them for 30 minutes to firm them up.

    In a large deep skillet over medium-high heat, warm two tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the meatballs and cook, turning them two to three times, until browned all over and nearly cooked through, about five minutes.

    Stir the remaining tablespoon of oil, the harissa, the sliced garlic and the remaining quarter teaspoon each salt and pepper into the bowl of tomatoes, then pour the tomatoes into the skillet with the meatballs. Turn the heat to medium and bring the sauce to a boil, then cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has somewhat thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste and add additional harissa, if desired.

    Divide the meatballs and sauce across four bowls, garnish with the remaining parsley, and serve with crusty bread or over couscous.


    Per serving: 409 calories, 28g protein, 25g carbohydrates, 24g fat, 5g saturated fat, 138mg cholesterol, 412mg sodium, 7g dietary fibre, 13g sugar

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