Kid-Friendly Food: Turkey Meatballs with Cilantro

I don’t know what it is about meatballs, but they seem to be the “it” food these days. I’ve seen recipes for meatball sliders teased on the cover of glossy food magazines and every Food Network personality seems to have a variation; Giada De Laurentis makes Mini Meatball Subs, Rachael Ray has her Spanikopita Chicken Meatballs, and Mario Batali, maybe most tempting of all, has a recipe for Lemon-Scented Meatballs.

Mario's seem most like the meatballs I grew up eating, the Italian-style ones my mother would make for our Sunday gravy, with the exception that she used beef rather than veal - they were big, tender and simply seasoned with garlic, parsley and Parmesan cheese. I still haven’t nailed down her recipe (she never wrote it down, it seems), but these might come close.

I’ve been playing with the traditional Italian meatball ingredients; switching them out for Asian and Latin flavors. After all, every ethnic cuisine includes seasoned meat rolled into balls.

Even better, meatballs couldn’t be more family-friendly; I like to make a big batch and freeze some for a quick and healthy “emergency” meal, served with brown rice and sauteed spinach.

I use ground turkey thigh in this recipe, it's a lower-fat alternative to beef and the dark meat produces a juicy meatball.

Turkey Meatballs with Cilantro

1/3 cup fine breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 egg
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the breadcrumbs and milk in a small bowl; soak 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine turkey, onions, cilantro, garlic, egg, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Add breadcrumb mixture and mix until combined; form 1 1/2-inch diameter meatballs.

Heat the oil a 12-inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Arrange meatballs in pan and cook until browned on all sides and cooked through, 7-10 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen.

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Copyright (c) 2008 FamilyStyle Food


Anonymous said...

cilantro and turkey meatballs?! what a great idea, i wouldn't have put them together. a nice dish for the superbowl weekend.

Emiline said...

Sounds good to me! I know what you mean. I read quite a few blogs, and it seems like everyone is making meatballs. Maybe it's the cold weather?

I wish I was Italian, so I could call tomato sauce, gravy.

Cindy. Lo. said...

Cumin and paprika always make food even better!

Anonymous said...

I love the cilantro and cumin in the recipe! I must be a kid at heart because I want to become real friendly with the meatballs and put them in my stomach.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I have never tried turkey meatballs - these are making me hungry, Karen!

Karen said...

Slowlikehoney, I think you're right - stick them with toothpicks and snack away.

Thanks, Emiline. You can call it gravy, too! Although no one else will know what you're talking about.

Hi Cindy lo, I totally agree.

Chuck, they are friendly to all. Thanks for stopping by!

Patricia, might be worth a try...thanks!

Anonymous said...

I have been making turkey meatballs since my kids were big enough to eat them but I bake them and they come out so good and NO mess. I think I bake them at 350 or 375 degrees for about 15-20 mins depending on the size of them. worth trying because NO mess!!!

birdie said...

These meatballs look great. I love the idea that kids will eat a healthier version of a traditional standby. I think i'll try these for the big game

chiffOnade said...

Is this anything like Jerusalem Mix? As a PROFESSIONAL CHEF (graduate of Peter Kump's Culinary Institute) and a SENIOR ADVISOR to Ed Levine's SeriousEats website, I have been assigned the task of finding a recipe for Jerusalem Mix.

I googooed it and yahooed it and everything, but I just can't find it.

Please email me at chiffonade@hotmail.com

Proud Italian Cook said...

Karen, Thank you for leading me to your blog! very impressive! I had fun "visiting" and enjoyed many of your posts, I will definately be back! BTY, loved your website as a personal chef!

Farmgirl Susan said...

These look delicious! Love the combination of flavors. Meatballs are such a fun food, aren't they? : )

Bellini Valli said...

A very health conscious choice using grojund turkey!!! I'll bet these were delicious!!

Kristen said...

These do sound good and I know my kids would gobble them up. We love meatballs at our house!

Squishy said...

Americans seem to love turkey in recipes. I have yet to try turkey mince, it is not as freely available here in Aussie Land. I usually make mine with a combo of beef and pork mince. Yours look great and I will have to give turkey a go.

Karen said...

Maine626 - thanks for the tip. I'm all about mess-free ideas.

Birdie, I hope you enjoy them. The best part is that the kids won't know that these are a little better for them!

Chiffonade, I'm not familiar with the Jerusalem Mix, but it sounds tasty.

Proud Italian Cook - thanks for visiting!

Farmgirl Susan, yes it must have to do with how easy a meatball is to eat - no utensils required.

Thanks, Bellini. Next up is turkey bacon, although I don't have high hopes for that.

Kristen, they are a kid fave, for sure! Enjoy...

Squishy, it ground turkey is a lot easier to find here, but there is something all-American about turkey (although I should say North American - turkey is popular in some Mexican stews like mole).

Jenny said...

I love making meatballs! These look great. My boys ask for them all the time! Yummy recipe!

Deborah Dowd said...

These look really yummy! And since I am suffering froma recent aversion to tomato sauce (some post-menopausal thing, I guess!) it is nice to see your lighter version.

bunny said...

Would like to know if the Turkey Meatballs w/cilantro are the ones you made the first part of Jan. 08
that included spinich. I have tried for days to get that recp and also the same day you made a pot of soup with small white beans, tomato soup- etc., and stale
french bread squares. Complete when
the wood spoon stands straight up.
I subscribe to your magazine and
enjoy every page. But, when I
watch your 30min tv show, I am not
quick enough to copy the ingred-
ients. Please tell me how to get
the recipies I enjoy on tv.