One good recipe: Turkey meatballs with ricotta beg for seconds

Who doesn’t love meatballs? Who doesn’t need a scrumptious big-batch recipe with built-in leftovers that freeze well? Almost everyone, I venture, except, respectfully, vegans and vegetarians. Plus these meatballs, which are baked instead of fried, are delicious. They are versatile too, and can be served over pasta or polenta, or spooned into hollowed out rolls for meatball sandwiches.

Turkey meatballs with ricotta from Julia Turshen's latest cookbook, “Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home-Cooking Triumphs,” were the first dish she ever cooked for the woman who became her wife. She writes: “A small victory here is not only about getting someone to marry you (!) but also about making meatballs that are incredibly light and tender by incorporating a generous amount of ricotta cheese in the mixture.”

Ms. Turshen explains that each recipe in the book introduces a small victory, and it is often more than one. The “victories” include tips such as how to get the seeds out of a pomegranate without making a mess to broader ideas about cooking such as using patience as an ingredient.

In the turkey meatballs, instead of the usual breadcrumbs and egg, ricotta is used as the binder, making the balls lighter and gluten-free.

Other delicious victories include Parmesan soup with tiny pasta and peas, with a base of water or chicken broth and Parmesan rinds, making use of what’s on hand. Julia’s Caesar replaces the rich dressing’s usual raw egg yolk with a spoonful of mayo. For something sweet, Ms. Turshen has concocted coconut ice cream with lime and mango. Instead of hauling out the ice cream maker, which many people probably don’t have, the mixture is frozen in ice cube trays and then whirled in the food processor.

Recipes also have spin-offs, including vegan and vegetarian ones, which are easy variations. So rice milk can be used in the above ice cream and for the Caesar.

The goal of the cookbook is to ensure that everyone you feed is happy. In the process you can become a happier and more confident cook. Get cooking.

Miriam Rubin:, and on Twitter: @mmmrubin.

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

PG tested

2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

7 garlic cloves, 4 thinly sliced, 3 finely minced

Kosher salt, divided

2 pounds ground turkey (preferably dark meat)

1½ cups fresh whole-milk ricotta

1 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Pour tomatoes and their juices into a large bowl (set cans aside) and crush tomatoes with hands. Rinse 1 can with ¼ cup water, pour water into other can to rinse; pour water into tomato bowl.

In Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, warm 3 tablespoons oil. Add sliced garlic, cook and stir until sizzling, 1 minute. Add tomatoes and large pinch salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, mashing tomatoes with a spoon, about 30 minutes, until slightly reduced.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil; drizzle foil with 2 tablespoons oil, rub over sheet.

In large bowl, put minced garlic, turkey, ricotta, basil, parsley, Parmesan and 2 teaspoons salt. Mix well with hands. With moistened hands, form mix into golf-ball sized meatballs, transferring them to prepared sheet. It’s OK if they touch. Drizzle meatballs with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Roast until browned and firm, about 25 minutes.

Return sauce to a simmer. Use tongs or slotted spoon to transfer meatballs to simmering sauce; discard fat in pan. Cook meatballs for 10 minutes in sauce and serve.

Makes 8 servings, about 30 meatballs.

— Adapted from “Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home-Cooking Triumphs” by Julia Turshen (Chronicle; September 2016)


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