“Cooking at Home With Bridget & Julia” by America’s Test Kitchen: Turkey-pesto meatballs

Best cookbooks of 2017

“Cooking at Home With Bridget & Julia” by America’s Test Kitchen

The debut cookbook by “America’s Test Kitchen” TV hosts, Bridget Lancaster and Julia Collin Davison, is just as home cook-friendly and relatable as their TV show. Some of its 150 recipes might sound basic and familiar, but they are a good reminder as to why you might want to get to know them again. So before you dismiss the recipes for shrimp and grits or meatballs and marinara or broccoli-cheese soup or cornbread-and-sausage stuffing, read the ingredient list and directions and you’ll understand why the recipes are fool-proof. Gift it to any “ATK” devotee or comfort-food junkie.

Bridget Lancaster says: Make sure to use panko breadcrumbs for the meatballs as they are light and flaky. The meatballs will be super starchy if you use regular breadcrumbs. When making the meatballs from leftover turkey, add a little fat such as olive oil because the meat will be dry. Also, par-freeze the leftover meat so that the food processor can tear it.

Typical holiday meal: “I teeter toward the boring when it comes to the turkey since the holiday is only once a year. If it were every month, I would be more adventurous. But I am more creative with the sides. I prefer them to be light and fresh and so will have a Brussels sprouts salad that is almost like a coleslaw that is made with vinaigrette. I like to roast squash instead of a sweet potato casserole.

Divvying up work with chef-husband, Stephen: I do 95 percent of the Thanksgiving meal. He has to work at the restaurant [Hawthorne By the Sea in Swampscott, Mass.] on Thanksgiving and so I feel badly to ask him to do anything except to carve the bird.

Popular requests: It’s a pedestrian appetizer — homemade cheeseball — but my family loves it. I made Korean fried chicken wings last year and will be repeating them this year.

Hardest part of it all: It is the timing. It’s a good idea not to tell people when you are going to have dinner. It is served when it is served.

Thanks, but no thanks: I am not a fan of cranberry relish as I am not into the sweet-tart combination. But it’s easy to do and I follow the recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray bag. I prefer the cocktail version of the relish.

Spaghetti With Turkey-Pesto Meatballs

PG tested

The sauce and meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

1 pound 93 percent lean ground turkey

⅔ cup basil pesto

⅔ cup panko breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped finely

4 garlic cloves, minced

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 pound spaghetti

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Gently mix turkey, pesto, panko, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in bowl using hands until uniform. Shape mixture into 18 meatballs.

Pulse 2 cans diced tomatoes in food processor until mostly smooth; set aside.

Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Brown meatballs well on all sides, about 10 minutes; transfer to paper towel–lined plate.

Add onion and ⅛ teaspoon salt to fat left in skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in processed tomatoes and remaining 1 can diced tomatoes and their juice. Bring to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Return meatballs to skillet, cover, and simmer gently until meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot.

Add several large spoonfuls of tomato sauce (without meatballs) to pasta and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency.

Divide pasta among individual bowls. Top each bowl with remaining sauce and meatballs, sprinkle with basil, and serve.

Serves 4 to 6.

— “Cooking at Home With Bridget & Julia” by America’s Test Kitchen (America’s Test Kitchen; October 2017; $35)


Hot Topic