Turkey Meatballs in a Tomato Basil Coconut Curry Sauce

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I’ve gone back and forth on whether I wanted to be a “food blogger” in what seems to be a very oversaturated world of “food bloggers.” If there is anything I’ve learned thus far as an entrepreneur and artist…it’s that there are no rules and fitting in a box is kind of boring. Do I like to cook? Hell yes! Do I like developing recipes and sharing them with others? You betcha! So whether that makes me a food blogger or not, here we are and I’m excited to share recipes with you! There will be no “theme” per say to the type of recipes I’ll share here. I just want to share what I like to cook and what I like to eat, because I’m sure there will be at least one person with similar taste buds than me.

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So…enough chit chat, the first recipe I want to share with you all is the perfect savory filling weeknight meal that also feeds a crowd. Leftovers…yes please. This dish gets better and better as it sits and as those meatballs soak up all that delicious sauce. It’s like you are eating tomato basil soup with a hint of coconut PLUS loaded with savory meatballs, tons of fresh herbs, and sweet peppers. Served over rice for even more texture and topped with cilantro and lime…hello. Now please don’t come at me because this is not a technical curry…and I have that in the title. I use curry powder in this dish because it’s just the perfect flavor to blend with coconut milk and tomatoes…and basil…and meatballs…you get the picture. The meatballs are lean and totally keto and totally great on their own or in any sauce for that matter. You can also add just about any vegetable or protein to the sauce for a rockin’ dish. Chickpeas or squash or shredded chicken. Yup, anything. So this is my favorite kind of recipe, easy to adapt and easy to make and uses a lot of pantry staples.

Wow…I clearly didn’t stop chit chatting…find the recipe below and let me know if you make it!

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Turkey Meatballs in a Tomato Basil Coconut Curry Sauce

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 2 pounds lean ground turkey

  • ⅔ cup finely chopped parsley 

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic 

  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese 

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten 

  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil 

  • 2 teaspoons salt 

  • ½  teaspoon freshly ground pepper 

  • 1 bunch green onions, both green and white parts chopped and divided

  • 3-4 tablespoons coconut oil 

For the sauce:

  • 1 red pepper, cut into thin slices 

  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger 

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • ½ cup loosely packed basil leaves, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 

  • ½  teaspoon salt

  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes

  • 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes 

  • 15 ounce can full fat coconut milk 

For serving:

  • Cooked white rice or cauliflower rice

  • Lime wedges

  • Fresh cilantro  

Directions: 

In a large bowl, add the ground turkey, parsley, garlic, parmesan cheese, eggs, sesame oil, salt, pepper, and about ⅓ cup of the green parts of your chopped green onion.  Mix it all together with your hands until it’s just combined. Don’t over mix or it could make the meatballs tough. Roll the mixture into small balls that are about 1 inch in diameter and set aside on a tray. 

Heat a dutch oven or large pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Place about 8-10 meatballs in the hot oil, trying not to overcrowd the pan. Sear the meatballs for about 1-2 minutes per side until all sides are brown. Don’t worry about them cooking all the way through, they will cook more in the sauce. Do this with all of the meatballs and add more coconut oil if they start to stick or brown too quickly. Set them aside as you go. 

In the same pan, heat another tablespoon coconut oil and add the red pepper slices and about ⅓ cup of the white parts of your green onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes until they are tender. Add the ginger, garlic, basil, curry powder, turmeric powder, cumin, and salt and cook for about 1-2 minutes until the herbs and spices are fragrant but stir constantly so they don’t burn. Add in the crushed and diced tomatoes and coconut milk. Add the meatballs into the sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked all the way through and the sauce has thickened. Serve over rice or cauliflower rice with fresh cilantro and lime wedges. 

Notes: 

  • I really believe the lime squeezed on at the end balances out the savory side of this dish. Lemon will work as well, but don’t skip this part! A splash of apple cider vinegar in the pan once it’s done can do the trick too as a last resort.

  • You can easily replace the ground turkey with ground chicken if you’d like. 

  • If you’d like this to dish to be dairy free, feel free to replace the parmesan cheese with breadcrumbs or almond flour. 

  • If you don’t feel like browning the meatballs in batches or you’d like to do this step ahead of time, you can bake them all in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. They won’t have that nice flavor from searing in the pan but they will be tasty no matter what. 

  • I made this dish to be more mild for our kiddos, so if you like things spicy...feel free to add in a spicy curry paste of your choice or jalapeños along with the red peppers. A nice drizzle of sriracha or hot sauce on top can do the trick too.  

  • I used toasted sesame oil in the meatballs because the flavor is awesome, but you can use olive oil or any oil you have on hand in its place.

  • Fresh parsley and fresh basil can sometimes be harder to find in the grocery store throughout the winter months, feel free to add chopped spinach or kale in place of the parsley. You can use dried basil in the sauce instead of fresh but only use about a tablespoon or so.

  • I used coconut oil for browning the meatballs for some healthy fat and more coconut flavor but any oil or butter will work for that step.