I’ve decided to start a new feature now that the cooler weather has arrived here in Chicago. It’s called Crockpot Corner and the first recipe to be featured are these wonderful Turkey Quinoa Meatballs.
The name Crockpot Corner sounds like it should be in a 1980s women’s magazine, I know, and if anybody has any better suggestions, I would appreciate it.
Anyway, who doesn’t love meatballs? They are so veratile. You can serve them over pasta, offer them as an appetizer, or — my favorite — put them on a hinged roll and melt some cheese over them for a meatball grinder.
When I was growing up, my older brother, Michael, introduced me to many of the more counter-cultural happenings that were going on in the mid-1970s, one of which was the “underground comics” of R. Crumb.
The one I remember most clearly was called “Meatball” and as far as I can recall it comprised mostly of ordinary people getting hit in the head with meatballs that were thrown at them from somewhere off-panel.
Ever since then, meatballs have always struck me as funny and I can’t eat them without remembering that R. Crumb comic.
Like all crockpot recipes, this delicious meatball recipe is simple to make and cooks all day at low temperature, filling the house with a rich, lush aroma.
It’s based on one I found it at the amazing blog How Sweet It Is, which is written by a wonderfully fearless madwoman named Jessica who consistently provides great recipes and generously shares details of her life with her readers.
Most weeks, I find at least one or two recipes on Jessica’s blog that I end up making (I’m planning to make one tonight, in fact). And her incredible food photography always inspires me to improve my own.
Turkey Quinoa Meatballs
2 lb Ground Turkey
2/3 cup Cooked Quinoa
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 Egg, lightly beaten
2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 TBS Grated Parmesan
2 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
1 White Onion, cut into thin rings
28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes
10 oz can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
6 oz can Tomato Paste
1. In a mixing bowl, combine turkey, quinoa, egg, olive oil, parmesan, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix together just until all the ingredients are combined, but be careful not to overmix because this can make the meatballs tough. With your hands, roll into meatballs about the size of golf ball. This should make about 24 meatballs.
2. In a crockpot, pour the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and stir around until blended. Then lay the sliced onion on top.
3. Put a cast iron pan over a medium heat. When hot, drizzle in a little EVOO and wait until it starts to smoke. Then place about half the meatballs in the pan, being careful not to splash yourself with hot oil. Turn until all sides are browned, then place in the crock pot on top of the onions. Cook the remaining meatballs the same way and add them to the crockpot.
4. Pour the juice from the whole peeled tomatoes on top of the meatballs, then hand crush the tomatoes. I enjoy the tactile experience of hand-crushing my tomatoes, but it also allows the tomatoes to maintain some of their shape the sauce cooks down, adding texture. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours.
I served these on hinged rolls smothered in tomato sauce and then covered with a slice of provalone cheese. Then I put it under the broiler for just a minute to melt the cheese a little.
This makes a lot of meatballs, so I ended up having these for lunch for a few days afterwards. I eventually sliced up the remaining meatballs and put them on a homemade pizza.
I hope you like the new feature and watch out for flying meatballs!