Sometimes all you need is big pot of spaghetti and meatballs. This recipe is for my lighter take on the hearty classic, subbing the beef out for turkey, which is a much leaner protein. It all comes together with a rich and juicy tomato basil sauce. Top it with cheese and head to your happy place.

At least once a week I get a craving for a big giant bowl of pasta. It’s like a warm, carb-filled hug if you ask me. This week, I wanted to go old school, and make ‘spaghetti and a meatballs’ (said in an overly-dramatic Italian accent.) We’ve been eating a lot of red meat lately, so I decided turkey was the perfect substitute to lighten things up, but still hold a lot of flavor. Minced up carrots, celery and onion help add even more fiber and nutrients, and the dried herbs blend so well with the sauce, bringing it all together in the end.

All you need is some fresh grate parmesan cheese, and perhaps a big glass of red wine. What can I say? It’s amore.

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

A lighter take on a classic dish. These turkey meatballs are tasty, juicy and full of extra veggies. Topped with a rich and fresh tomato basil sauce.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Keyword: dinner recipe, lighter pasta, meatballs, pasta, pasta recipe, spaghetti, tomato basil sauce, turkey, turkey meatballs


Turkey Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 carrots grated or minced
  • 2 celery stalks grated or minced
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper (each)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Tomato Basil Sauce

  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 2 carrots finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup full-bodied red wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 28oz. can whole or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 8oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bunch fresh basil gently torn into pieces
  • Salt & pepper to taste

To Finish Dish

  • 1 pkg spaghetti noodles
  • grated parmesan


  • First make the meatballs. Add all of the ingredients except the olive oil to a bowl. Use CLEAN hands to mix everything together until it’s evenly distributed.
  • Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. When hot, grab tablespoon-sized pieces of meat mixture and roll into firm balls between your hands and place in the hot skillet.
  • After you’ve rolled out all the meatballs, use tongs to rotate them around on the skillet, getting all the sides browned. (This should only take about 5 minutes in the hot oil. You don’t want to cook the meatballs through yet, or burn the outsides.) Once they are browned, set them aside on a plate.
  • Add more olive oil to the same pan, along with the onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Sauté until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the wine and tomato paste and cook until bubbly.
  • Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce, along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until bubbling.
  • Return the meatballs to the pan with the sauce, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Take off the lid, and remove the meatballs. Use an immersion blender to purée the sauce until everything is smooth and consistent. (It will still have a little texture, not like a bisque or soup). Taste the sauce and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Stir in the torn basil leaves.
  • Return the meatballs once more and cook on low while you cook your noodle to your liking.
  • Once the noodles are cooked and drained, return them to their pot, and add a few ladleful of the sauce and the meatballs, and toss it all to mix.
  • Serve with more sauce on top, and a heaping pile of grated parmesan!

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