Slow Cooker Italian Turkey-Zucchini Meatballs

by Anne Bennett on May 3, 2017

I first posted these meatballs in November, 2016, when the weather was turning cold and a plate of spaghetti and meatballs was just the thing to warm one’s soul. It’s now Spring, 2017, and last night we enjoyed them again, only this time we ate our meatballs with zucchini noodles (zoodles) instead of pasta. I’m not stupid — heavy sweater weather is over and swimsuit season is next up.

Our slimming Spring dinner: turkey meatballs with zoodles and broccoli.

You’re going to have to trust me when I say that you can cook meatballs in a slow cooker. No frying in a pan, no baking in the oven, no pre-cooking at all. You just mix the ingredients, form them into meatballs and plop them into your slow cooker and cook on LOW for 4 hours.

To make this weird concept even more confounding, these meatballs are made with ground turkey and shredded zucchini. Not exactly your Italian grandmother’s time-honored family recipe but stay with me, because in 4 hours when you open the lid, this is what you see:

turkey-meatballs

Surprise, surprise! This recipe, from Gina of Skinnytaste.com, is awesome. While the meatballs gently simmer in the slow cooker, they flavor the easy-to-assemble sauce. The shredded zucchini?  You don’t even know it’s there. Add some zoodles (zucchini noodles) for a super-healthy, low-Point Italian-style dinner.

Don’t forget Gina’s instruction to squeeze the excess water from the shredded zucchini with paper towels. The other step she suggests is to quickly sauté the smashed garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil before adding them to the slow cooker with the crushed tomatoes. Then, as they say, set it and forget it.

Meatballs:

1 medium zucchini (7 ounces), shredded
1 1/4 lbs. 93% lean ground turkey
1/4 cup seasoned dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Sauce:

1 tsp. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, smashed slightly
1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh basil leaves, chopped

For the meatballs: Using paper towels, squeeze excess water from the shredded zucchini. Put zucchini in a large bowl and add the turkey, bread crumbs, Romano cheese, parsley, garlic, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well. Gently form into 24 meatballs (about 1 1/4 oz. each) and set aside.

For the sauce: In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to a 6-qt. slow cooker and add the crushed tomatoes, Romano cheese, bay leaf and pepper to taste. Slowly drop the meatballs into the sauce in a single layer on the bottom of the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours, until the meatballs are tender and cooked through. To serve, discard the bay leaf and garnish with fresh basil.

Serves: 6 (4 meatballs and 2/3 cup sauce)
WW SmartPoints per serving: 7

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jody Gittleman November 13, 2016 at 11:11 am

Looks like a great, easy recipe. I’m definitely going to try it.

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