Turkey Meatballs w/ Pasta and Sauce


It’s Pasta Time! This simple Italian meal is perfect for family dinners and leftovers all week long.

Turkey Meatballs w/ Pasta and Sauce

Created by VN Chef Valerie Cogswell

Thrive Phase and Body Confidence Approved

Gourmet Style

What’s the secret to making delicious and healthy meatballs? Use the freshest ingredients! We’ve mixed ground turkey with fresh garlic, onion, herbs and parmesan cheese and topped them with fragrant, homemade sauce. To lower the carbohydrate content in this dish, you can skip the pasta and use veggies or brown rice (see notes below).

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Makes: 8 Servings
Serving size: 3 meatballs with 1/3 cup sauce and ½ cup cooked pasta

Calories per serving: 318
Protein per serving: 21 grams
Fat per serving: 8 grams
Carbohydrates per serving: 32 grams


for the pasta:

  • ½ box Whole Wheat Pasta

for the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup grated onion
  • 2 tablespoons celery, very finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced into a paste
  • 2 – 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes (not from concentrate)
  • ½ to 1 cup water (optional), depending on desired consistency
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves, rough chopped

for the meatballs:

  • Fat free cooking spray
  • 1 1/3 pounds 93% ground turkey (avoid using any leaner – the meatballs won’t be as tender!)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup packed fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced into a paste
  • ½ small onion, grated (about ¼ cup)
  • ½ cup grated, quality parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon whole wheat seasoned Panko bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Method of Preparation:

begin by making the sauce

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add onion and celery and cook for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook one additional minute.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes and simmer for approximately 30 minutes over low heat*. (Add water if sauce gets too thick)
  3. Add salt, pepper and sugar. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Add a little more water if sauce is too thick. Stir in fresh basil and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat but keep warm.

*while making the sauce, start the meatballs and pasta:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cover sheet pan with foil and spray with fat free cooking spray.
  2. Gently mix all ingredients for the meatballs together, being very careful not to over-mix.
  3. Roll into approximately 24 small meatballs and place on cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for approximately 18 – 20 minutes, turning once half way through cooking until no longer pink (make sure not to overcook). In the meantime, prepare pasta according to package directions. Keep warm.
  5. Remove meatballs, toss in sauce and serve over pasta. Enjoy!

What is the nutritional balance?

This recipe has a good balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat and is a complete meal.


Pasta is naturally high in carbohydrates (1/2 cup cooked pasta has approximately 20 grams!). The trick with pasta is to eat it only eat it on occasion and balance it with protein and fat (like our turkey meatballs). Remember, it is okay to occasionally eat a meal that does not perfectly match your ratios. If you’re having an “off” meal, it’s fine to increase the amount of pasta.

If you would like to lower the carbohydrate content (and calories) or increase the quality of the dish, try omitting the pasta and serve the turkey meatballs and sauce with your favorite veggies or even brown rice.

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