Dinner Tonight: Pasta with Turkey Meatballs and Bocconcini Mozzarella

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

I admit, considering that two days from now you'll probably be feasting on a whole turkey surrounded by family and friends, that it's possible you're not looking for a turkey recipe for dinner. But I can't help it—turkeys are everywhere this time of year, and using them for all kinds of cooking is very economical. I recently bought one to test recipes for Thanksgiving, and have braised its legs for a dinner party, used a breast to make a fricasee, and simmered the bones to make a rich yellow stock. A turkey will give you meals and leftovers for days.

But more than that, this is a great recipe. Surprisingly great, actually. Turkey is a deceptively rich meat that makes juicy meatballs, here filled with garlic, Parmesan, and parsley. The tomatoes are soft and sweet, broken down slightly in the skillet, and the mozzarella is creamy and melts with the residual heat. If you're had your fill of tryptophan, tuck this one away for late, but don't forget about it—, it's a keeper.

Pasta with Turkey Meatballs and Bocconcini Mozzarella

About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. After a year in Estonia, he's now living in Chicago.

Dinner Tonight: Pasta with Turkey Meatballs and Bocconcini Mozzarella

About This Recipe



  • 3/4 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 8 ounces small pasta, such as orechiette or shells
  • 1 cup bocconcini mozzarella (about 20 balls)


  1. 1

    Bring a large pot of salty water to boil. In the meantime, combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, garlic, egg, 1/2 the Parmesan,1/2 the parsley, 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. Mix to combine the ingredients and for into about 25 meatballs. Use a tablespoon to portion out their size.

  2. 2

    In large (12-inch) skillet, melt half the butter over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the meatballs and cook until browned on all sides, 5-7 minutes. Add 1 cup of water and simmer the meatballs, uncovered, until cooked through and the liquid is reduced by 2/3. Add the tomatoes and cook until softened.

  3. 3

    In the meantime, cook the pasta until al dente. Reserving some pasta cooking water, drain and add to the skillet, tossing to combine. Add the mozzarella, remaining parsley, remaining Parmesan, and the other half of the butter. If the dish seems dry or claggy, add some pasta water and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and serve.


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