Week 66: Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

You’re probably sick of turkey, after many many portions of it over the last month.  I think we’re far enough passed twelfth night to be done with leftovers, even if you had a bird the size of a small car on the 25th.  By complete coincidence I managed to make a very low fat meal in January.  I’d only chosen the meal so I could make a start on my main challenge for the year: hating celery less.


I hate celery.  And this recipe from Nigella’s Kitchen book uses a whole stick. It’s like dinner roulette.

To make this for 4 (or 8 smaller portions) you will need: 1 onion, 1 horrible stick of celery, 2 tablespoons of garlic oil, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 2 tins chopped tomatoes, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt flakes (or half a teaspoon of pouring salt), 500g minced turkey, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs, 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and another half teaspoon of dried thyme.

The first thing I realised I’d done wrong was not making my breadcrumbs in the blender, so do this first and then set the crumbs to one side (or lob them in the bowl you’re going to mix the meatballs in) until later.  Then wipe the blender and peel the onion and put it in the blender with the celery and blitz into a pulp.  If you don’t have a blender Nigella says you should chop it up as small as possible by hand.  Put 2 tablespoons of the oniony-celery-y mix into the bowl with the breadcrumbs.


Heat the garlic oil into a large saucepan to a moderate heat, and add the rest of the onion and celery, and a teaspoon of thyme and cook for 10 minutes. Stir it every so often.

Add the tins of tomatoes, and then fill each can with water and add that too.  Sprinkle in the sugar, salt, and grind in some pepper to taste.  Stir it as it comes to a bubble and then turn the heat down low.


Now it’s time to make the meatballs.  Add the mince, egg, Parmesan, Worcestershire sauce and half a teaspoon of dried thyme to the the bowl of breadcrumbs and celeryonion-mush that you set aside earlier.  Mix all the ingredients together gently until they’re combined, but not like pink goo.


Nigella says that this should make 50 balls. Unfortunately my balls were too big (behave) so I had to break them all in half, which took ages.



Drop these into the simmering sauce.  Breaking my balls meant that the sauce had thickened up quite a lot. I didn’t want to smash up the balls by stirring them so I sort of shimmied the pan around which coated them with the sauce.  Simmer for 30 minutes and serve with rice or pasta.


I’ll admit – more than usual – I was convinced this was going to be horrible. I was sure the celery taint would contaminate the whole shebang, but it didn’t it was really tasty. The sauce was really good, I was worried it would be a little bland, but it wasn’t. Bonus! The balls were a little chewy from the extra working they needed to make them smaller.


I got 4 portions out of this, I’d imagine with some salad it could serve 6.  Nigella says it will freeze well, and I’m glad about that cos I froze half of it!  I just wish they sold celery sticks singly…

Kitchen, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2010, ISBN 9780701184605)

Nigella Kitchen



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