Turkey Pesto Meatballs in Pesto Cream Sauce


Last weekend I made Herbed Meatloaf and ate all three pounds of it (with the help of a few coworkers and my boss) all week long, in preparation for the American Red Cross blood drive on Thursday. Traditionally I’m rejected 50% of the time I attempt to donate due to  my blood iron level.

I was miffed last time when I was rejected for the same reason, turned to the guy and said, But I ate a monstrous burger last night! Only to be told, You have to eat more than a burger the night before you donate. Last week I was prepared, and the preparation paid off – I was two-tenths of a point (12.7) over the level needed (12.5).

Anyway, I used to be someone who hated eating leftovers but have had to put that aside in light of the reduction in income and increase in expenses I’ve had in the past two or three years. I’ve discovered that when the leftovers are good, I don’t mind eating them all week long. It’s cheaper and easier to eat leftovers (instead of buying my lunch at work or going out for lunch), and, quite frankly, out of laziness if I don’t have food on hand sometimes I just don’t eat lunch. (I know. Who does that? Especially a foodie like me?) When I have leftovers in the fridge at work, I have no excuses. I figured this recipe would be perfect to stretch all week long.

meatball ingredients.

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 c. panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 c. pesto
  • 1/3 c. grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper

sauce ingredients.

  • 2 c. whipping cream
  • 1 T. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 to 1/3 c. pesto sauce
  • bay leaf
  • Salt and ground white pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ground turkey, panko, pesto, Parmesan, eggs, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. Wet your hands form meatballs (about 1 inch in diameter, mine ended up being a bit bigger) and place on nonstick baking sheets (or baking sheets coated with vegetable oil spray). Space meatballs evenly without crowding.
  2. Bake until browned on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Turn using tongs and bake an additional 10 minutes or until browned on the other side.
  3. While meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce. Whisk the cream, flour, bay leaf, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper and pesto sauce in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, carefully stirring occasionally, until the cream just comes to a simmer, about 12 minutes. Continue to simmer, adjusting the heat if necessary and stirring to prevent the bottom from scorching until the sauce has thickened slightly. Once the sauce has reached your desired thickness, set aside until the meatballs are done browning.
  4. Remove the meatballs from oven and gently place in a small glass or ceramic baking dish. Pour sauce over meatballs and return to oven. Bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Serve meatballs warm in sauce.

The original recipe called for a tomato sauce buuuuuuuuut I wanted to go in a different direction in order to use the remaining amount of pesto leftover from what was used to make the meatballs.

My meatballs turned out a bit … mushy? And I have a couple of theories why. Could be the quality of the ground turkey. Could be that I made the meatballs too big. Could be that I should have browned all sides, not just two. (And while I’m on the subject of browning – perhaps I should have done that in a frying pan instead of in the oven.) Other than the mushy texture, the taste of the meatball was good – especially when drowned in a tasty pesto cream sauce.

Recipe rating: 


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