Ah, turkey meatballs. It's no secret that my husband Ted and I love turkey meatballs seasoned any which way, and we have fun mixing up big batches and stashing them in the freezer for salads and meatball sandwiches. This summer I've fallen in love with salsa verde -- spicy green tomatillo-based salsa -- so it was inevitable that salsa would find its way into our most recent meatball variation.
The key to these meatballs is to drain the salsa of excess liquid, so that what you add to the meatball mix is mostly the solids that carry all of the salsa spices. It takes just a few minutes, and you can set the salsa in a sieve to drain while you assemble the remaining ingredients. Salsa verde comes in variations from mild to incendiary. Use your favorite, or go ahead and use red salsa if that's what you have on hand. You can wrap the meatballs in lettuce leaves, as we do, or in tortillas or even pita bread, and if your diet permits, add a bit of sour cream on top.
Salsa turkey meatball lettuce wraps
From the pantry you'll need: ground turkey, dried bread crumbs, salsa, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, fresh black pepper, egg, black beans, shredded cheese.
Makes 20-22 meatballs; serves 8-10 in lettuce wraps.
1 lb ground turkey (I use 93% fat-free)
1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp bottled salsa verde, drained in a fine-mesh sieve (I love Herdez salsa verde)
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
1 large egg
1 Tbsp oil (any type: olive, vegetable, peanut, etc.)
1-2 heads romaine lettuce
1-1/2 cups cooked (or canned and drained) black beans
2-3 avocados, cubed
1-1/2 cups shredded cheese (I use low-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend)
Your favorite salsa, for garnish
Fresh cilantro leaves, to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, bread crumbs, drained salsa, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper, and the egg and oil. Mix well with your hands, just until all ingredients are combined (do not overmix). Set aside. [If you want to test for seasoning, brown a spoon-sized piece in a nonstick frying pan, and taste the cooked piece. Do not taste raw turkey. Adjust seasoning if needed.]
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat (silicone baking sheet) or parchment paper.
Using an ice cream scoop with a release (a disher), or a spoon, form the turkey mixture into 20-22 small meatballs, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 18 minutes, and remove from the oven. Let cool to room temperature, or cool completely, pack into airtight containers, and refrigerate or freeze.
Begin the assembly of the lettuce wraps (you could use tortillas instead): Set out the lettuce leaves. Drizzle some black beans in each leaf. Top with 2-3 turkey meatballs. Add a few pieces of avocado, some cheese, a few drops of salsa, and cilantro leaves.
Serve at room temperature.
More fun with turkey meatballs:
Italian turkey meatballs with sun-dried tomato and basil, from The Perfect Pantry
BLT turkey meatballs, from The Perfect Pantry
Italian turkey meatballs in tomato sauce, from Cookin' Canuck
Teriyaki turkey meatballs, from Life's Ambrosia
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