Comfort food is a necessary part of life, no matter what sort of diet you need to follow. Comfort food gives us a kind of inner hug, a bit of a respite from the pressures and obligations of the day. A plate of pasta smothered in a sweet and tangy red sauce and topped with two big meatballs is just such a dish.
The recipe here is suited to my and my husband's particular taste, but it's easy enough to adjust and adapt this recipe to your own palate. I use sweet and earthy herbs for both the meatballs and the sauce, a classic combination of parsley, basil, oregano and rosemary. You can change up the flavorings to suit your taste; for example, you can substitute the rosemary for sage, or add fresh basil to the sauce.
The recipe is a guideline, rather than an absolute. Make this classic comfort food your go-to dish for those times when only comfort food will do.
1 ½ pounds ground turkey
1 cup bread crumbs
*Herbal mix: 1 teaspoon each of dried basil, oregano and parsley; ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
3 cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon each of dried basil, oregano and parsley; about 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
Aromatics: 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 sweet pepper: cut into large pieces
Combine the ingredients together for the meatball mix.
Pull off portions of the mix and roll into meatballs, making them just smaller than a golf ball.
Place them on a broiler pan.
Brown them under the broiler for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix all the sauce ingredients in the insert of your crockpot. When the meatballs are browned, put them in the sauce, sinking them in so they cook thoroughly.
Put the inset in the cooker, set the temperature on low and cook for three hours.
Remove the meatballs from the sauce, and then remove the wilted aromatics.
A Word about Sodium and Fat
I use a lean ground turkey, with a low fat content. The higher the fat content of your ground turkey, the more breadcrumbs you should add to the meatball mix. If there's a lot of fat, and not enough breadcrumb, you could end up with a crumbly meatball and greasy sauce.
If you use a low fat turkey, consider adding a teaspoon of salt to the mixture. I don't add it because there's salt in the tomato sauce and that's enough for us. But a teaspoon of salt in the meat mixture will boost the flavors.
And a Final Tip
Bring all the ingredients to room temperature: the egg, the meat, and the veggies for your aromatics. This makes for more even cooking, and results in fuller flavor.