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Turkey, Wild Pecan Rice and Kale Meatballs

With Tomato and White Bean Pomodoro and Whole Grain Garlic Bread

Serves 6 If you are looking for something different, delicious and healthy in the meatball realm, then look no further. Ground turkey, which has less saturated fat than ground beef, pork or both, can be used to create an excellent meatball. A couple of steps will ensure flavor, texture and moisture retention. That’s where wild pecan rice and kale come in. Wild pecan rice, a special variety of brown rice from Louisiana, offers an amazing nuttiness, while acting as the fat holding “panada,” which keeps things moist. Kale, on the other hand, adds a wonderful depth of flavor and nutrients to the mix. Combined with a white-bean thickened, zesty pomodoro sauce and a bit of garlic and basil, the results are pretty awesome.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. Ground Turkey, not super lean
  • 4 Eggs, whisked
  • 1/2 cup Wild Pecan Rice, cooked
  • 1/4 cup Romano Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Kale, cooked, cooled, chopped
  • To Taste: Kosher Salt
  • To Taste: Black Pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tsp. Garlic, granulated
  • 3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves Garlic, unpeeled
 
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Onion, Spanish, small dice
  • 6 cloves, Garlic, sliced
  • 1 can (23 oz.) Crushed Tomatoes, high quality, such as Cento All Purpose
  • 1/4 cup White Beans, mashed
  • To Taste: Kosher Salt
  • To Taste: Black Pepper, freshly ground
 
  • 1 loaf Whole Grain Italian Bread, sliced 1-½” thick
  • 1 stick Butter, salted, softened
  • 1 tsp. Garlic, chopped, fresh
  • 2 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp. Parsley, fresh, chopped
  • To Taste: Kosher Salt
  • To Taste: Black Pepper, freshly ground
 
  • 3 Tbsp. Basil, fresh, chopped
  • As Needed: Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • Optional: Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Garnish: 6 sprigs fresh Basil
 

Directions

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the first set of ingredients and fold together until evenly combined. Using a scoop (or a good eye), portion and roll the meat into 18 meatballs. Place on a parchment-lined tray, cover and refrigerate for one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat a large non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat through. Add the meatballs, one by one, evenly spacing them in the pan to prevent sticking.
  3. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves to the pan and continue to cook, until lightly browned. Flip the meatballs and continue to do so until the meatballs are colored all over. Flip the garlic cloves half way through as well, to prevent burning.
  4. Place the pan into the oven – set at 375 degrees – and cook until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  5. To make the sauce, heat the second measure of olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sweat slowly, without coloring, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and translucent (approximately 8 minutes). Add the garlic and stir well. Continue to cook until the garlic is aromatic and lightly golden in color. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the beans, season with salt and pepper.
  6. To make the garlic bread, lightly toast the bread slices in the oven until they have firmed up a little. Remove and cool. In a small mixing bowl, using a fork, whisk together the softened butter, garlic, Parmesan and parsley. Season with just a touch of salt and pepper. Spread the mixture onto the lightly toasted bread, place onto a baking sheet and bake until golden and crisp. Remove from oven and keep warm.
  7. To serve, spoon a tablespoon of the oil, in which the meatballs cooked, into the sauce. Stir in the fresh basil. Spoon a nice serving of the sauce into the center of warmed serving bowls. Place three warm meatballs into the sauce and garnish each bowl with fresh basil sprigs, a sprinkle of cheese, a touch of crushed red pepper and an unpeeled garlic clove. The garlic cloves will be soft and can be spread onto the bread and dunked into the sauce.

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