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  • Writer's pictureEliana

Turkey Pesto Meatballs | Make Memories

If Corey and I could have pesto five out of seven nights of the week, we would. But then again, we'd hate to get sick of our beloved sauce. Growing up Pesto wasn't something our families made, so we relied on her friends to (cross our fingers) have pesto when we went over or bring it to school for lunch. I had a friend who's dad made pesto with pasta for her to bring to school every single day for lunch in the seventh grade. Sometimes, her friends would get lucky and he would pack her a second tupperware filled with pesto for all of us to share. This a food memory I won't forget, just like Corey won't forget his neighbors always inviting him over when they made pesto for dinner.

Food makes memories and for us Pesto is a memory we hold near and dear because it was sacred to us (yeah yeah go ahead play your little mini violin for us, poor us!). Let's just say now a days we don't go long without our fix of pesto. We have continued to make memories and making memories is key to enjoying the good things in life.

We we really like pesto, we've created turkey pesto meatballs, one of our most cherished recipes and activities we do together. Corey makes one heck of a sous chef. So, here you have it our rendition of turkey mixed with a whole bunch of yumminess and a heaping scoop of pesto, to create a perfect meal for any night. Fairly often, I substitute pine nuts for walnuts, for one they are less expensive and two they add a creamy nut flavor to the pesto. Don't forget to save some of your starchy pasta water, in case you want to thin out the pesto sauce at the end when you mix everything together!

Turkey Pesto Meatballs

Pesto Sauce

yields: 1¼ cups Pesto


8 cups packed basil leaves

3/4 cup olive oil

½ cup pine nuts (substitute: walnuts or pecans)

1 to 2 cloves garlic

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup grated Parmesan


In a food processor, pulse basil, olive oil, nuts, garlic, and salt until almost smooth. Add the pesto to a small bowl and fold in parmesan cheese.

Pesto Turkey Meatballs

Yields: 20- 24 Meatballs


1/2 broccoli head, cut into small florets

1 pound spaghetti or fusilli pasta

1 pound ground turkey

1 egg

3/4 cup breadcrumbs

1/2 cup pesto

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 350ºF degrees.

In a large pot of boiling water, cook broccoli florets until tender, about 6 minutes. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon or sieve. Place in a bowl and set aside.

In the same pot, cook the spaghetti or pasta, according to the package directions, about 12 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water for the pesto sauce. Drain well and transfer back into pot with broccoli, set aside.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl, combine the ground turkey, egg, breadcrumbs, pesto, milk, and parmesan; mix until incorporated (be careful not to over work the meat). Form into small 1 oz balls.

In a nonstick skillet, heat olive oil and sauté meatballs over medium-high heat, until lightly golden brown all over, about 8 minutes. Finish the meatballs off in the oven until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Re-heat the pot with spaghetti and broccoli over medium-low heat. Add the remaining pesto sauce. Slowly add the reserved pasta water to thin out the pesto, if needed. Add the meatballs and combine all together.

(Cooks note- Grate some parmesan cheese on top for some extra 'oomph. Don't forget to reserve some pasta water to loosen the pesto sauce, if it's too thick.)

- wholeELchilada

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