Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs & Rapini - Food Gypsy

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs & Rapini

Published On February 18, 2015 | By Gypsy | All Recipes, Featured, Poultry, The Mains

Eating lighter, health conscious meals lends balance to cold-weather-comfort-food season, and yet this is a very comforting meal.  With the accent on fresh and green this Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs & Rapini is sure to make it to the family table.

Ground turkey can be so cheap this time of year.  It’s a lean, versatile white meat, and I so often forget about it.  In this recipe I kept a heart-friendly theme and baked (rather than sauteed) the meatballs.  It’s easier, crates less mess in the kitchen and makes for a result that’s lower in fat.  Tasty, spicy turkey meatballs. I feel so… hipster.

In this shot we’ve used Peperoncino Spaghetti , a President’s Choice product that I simply could not resist on the shelves of my local supermarket.  Made from Durum Wheat Semolina with chilies and garlic, it has solid colour and lends a unique flavour profile to the dish without being overpowering.  Personally, I like how well it holds, never getting sticky or clumpy.

 When making pasta dishes I almost always pre-cook then rinse my pasta so that it can hold as I finish the dish.  In our tiny kitchen, this helps to free up space on the stove and manage timing.  Then when I’m ready, I simply toss with my chosen sauce until warm, and serve.  A good kitchen hack to apply for your next dinner party, or in your small space.

Tossed with a classic combination of garlic, parsley and olive oil, this is a hearth healthy meal complete with a light, spicy meatball and dark, bitter greens.

Spaghetti with Parsley & Garlic - Food Gypsy

At a certain time of the year, as winter drags on, I begin to crave bitter foods.  There’s a reason for this craving; bitter foods help to bring the body back into balance after a season heavy with sweets, spicy and salty foods .  The best way for our system to re-boot and clear is to seek that which it lacks.  The bite of bitter fuels the heart, increases circulation and clears the small intestine.  Coffee, dark chocolate, and dark leafy greens feed the need for a bitter.  Rapini (or broccoli raabe/rabe as it’s often called in North America) is packed with nutrition; vitamins A, C & K plus potassium, calcium and iron.  It’s bitter, and if it’s over cooked, it can be even more so.

In this recipe I handle it like the Romans do; tossed at the last minute with a simple pan of garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper.  Rapini, and most vegetables in my opinion, should still be served bright and colourful, with a bit of crunch intact.

A word of caution, don’t overdo the taste of bitter in you diet as it may affect your heart and inhibit your sex life (and we can’t have that!).  Flavour and health are all about balance: sweet, sour, salty, bitter & spice in harmony.  A Fung Shui approach to good living and healthy eating.  Everything in balance.

We balanced this meal with a decent Valpolicella.  (Purely for medicinal purposes, of course.)

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs & Rapini 2 - Food Gypsy

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs & Rapini

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves four

Turkey Meatballs

2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup panko
2 large shallots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed, chopped fine
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (olive oil based preferred)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (smooth)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Dash of Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Spaghetti with Garlic & Parsley

1/2 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 – 8 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped fine
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
salt & pepper to taste


2 pounds rapini (brocoli raabe)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, diced fine
salt & pepper to taste

To Finish: freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


1)  First start the meatballs; in a large bowl combine turkey, shallots, garlic, mayo, mustard, herbs, and spices and mix, using your hands or a spatula, until combined.  Then add panko and mix again.  Shape meat into balls, about 2 tablespoons in size, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

2)  While meatballs chill, pre-heat oven to 350°F (175°C) and get you water salted boiling for your pasta (about 4 quarts/liters and 2 tablespoons of kosher salt).  Chop garlic & parsley for pasta & rapini (if you didn’t chop it all while prepping your meatballs) and wash and prep your rapini.

3)  Bake meatballs at 350F (210C) for about 30 minutes. While meatballs cook, once water has come to a solid boil, add your pasta and cook to just al dante.  Reserve about a half a cup of pasta water before draining and rinsing your pasta well, then reserve.

4)  As meatballs finish, return empty pasta pot to the stove over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic and cook, strirng as needed, for about 3 to 4 minutes until garlic begins to brown.  Stir in parsley and red pepper flakes and remove from heat. Cook your rapini:  Place a large pan over medium heat and add oil & garlic for rapini.  Once hot, add repini, tossing quickly with oil & garlic, season as desired.  Add two or so tablespoons of water to create steam and reduce heat to minimum, this will help finish cooking, but not over cook your rapini, and hold hot.

5)  Remove cooked turkey meatballs from the oven, allow to rest in a warm spot.  Return oil & parsley to the heat for pasta.  Add pasta and about a 1/4 cup, or more if needed, of the reserved pasta water (you wondered what that was for didn’t you), to loosen the sauce, and toss your pasta to coat & steam.  Serve immediately, curling pasta in the bowls, punctuating with turkey meatballs and adding rapini to the side. Finish with a measure of Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated fresh.

Fresh, fast & healthy. Buon appetito.

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About The Author

Recipe testing and blogging about food, wine and the art of great living from her home kitchen just outside Ottawa; Cori (Corinna) Horton is a food marketing consultant, cook and real food advocate sharing all things delicious - right here.

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