Kid-Friendly Food: Turkey Meatballs with Cilantro

I don’t know what it is about meatballs, but they seem to be the “it” food these days. I’ve seen recipes for meatball sliders teased on the cover of glossy food magazines and every Food Network personality seems to have a variation; Giada De Laurentis makes Mini Meatball Subs, Rachael Ray has her Spanikopita Chicken Meatballs, and Mario Batali, maybe most tempting of all, has a recipe for Lemon-Scented Meatballs.

Mario’s seem most like the meatballs I grew up eating, the Italian-style ones my mother would make for our Sunday gravy, with the exception that she used beef rather than veal – they were big, tender and simply seasoned with garlic, parsley and Parmesan cheese. I still haven’t nailed down her recipe (she never wrote it down, it seems), but these might come close.

I’ve been playing with the traditional Italian meatball ingredients; switching them out for Asian and Latin flavors. After all, every ethnic cuisine includes seasoned meat rolled into balls.

Even better, meatballs couldn’t be more family-friendly; I like to make a big batch and freeze some for a quick and healthy “emergency” meal, served with brown rice and sauteed spinach.

I use ground turkey thigh in this recipe, it’s a lower-fat alternative to beef and the dark meat produces a juicy meatball.

Turkey Meatballs with Cilantro

1/3 cup fine breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 egg
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the breadcrumbs and milk in a small bowl; soak 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine turkey, onions, cilantro, garlic, egg, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Add breadcrumb mixture and mix until combined; form 1 1/2-inch diameter meatballs.

Heat the oil a 12-inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Arrange meatballs in pan and cook until browned on all sides and cooked through, 7-10 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen.

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