This is one of my favorite go-to recipes during summertime, at the height of tomato season. When tomatoes are plump and sweet, this easy fresh tomato sauce is so satisfying. Paired with juicy turkey zucchini meatballs and you have the ultimate veggie-packed summer comfort meal!
click below to watch how to make the tastiest turkey zucchini meatballs and fresh tomato sauce
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here’s how to get started
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED FOR THIS RECIPE
- 1 pound zucchini or summer squash
- 3 3 cloves garlic
- 2 small shallots
- 1 small bunch fresh basil
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 5 pounds summer tomatoes
- tomato paste
- extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- ground black pepper
how to pick tomatoes
Look for ripe tomatoes that are still slightly firm.
You won’t really be able to tell if a tomato is sweet with a non-mealy texture until you taste it, so I like to buy tomatoes from farmers markets when they’re in season. That way, I can ask for a taste sample or ask the farmer directly about the tomatoes.
cooking equipment and pantry items used in this meatball and fresh tomato sauce recipe
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how to make turkey zucchini meatballs and easy fresh tomato sauce – step by step
let’s start with the turkey zucchini meatball ingredients
Wash and grate the zucchini on a box grater. Then wrap the grated zucchini in a large piece of folded cheese cloth and wring the moisture out.
To make the meatballs, mix the grated zucchini, garlic paste made from 2 cloves of garlic, minced shallots, basil, salt, pepper, and ground turkey in a large bowl just until well incorporated
pro tip: using your hands with gloves on is the easiest way to mix and quickly form meatballs
here’s a quick way to shape meatballs
Form 2 inch diameter meatballs with your hands by squeezing the mixture through your left thumb and index finger (photo 1). This technique is also shown in the cooking video.
Line shaped meatballs on a parchment paper covered half sheet tray (photo 2) and set aside while you prepare the tomato sauce.
how to make easy fresh tomato sauce
Wash and then grate the fresh tomatoes over the largest holes of a box grater over a parchment paper lined sheet tray until only the tomato skin and stem is left.
It may help to cut a thin piece off the bottom of the tomato before grating if your tomatoes are still fairly firm. Repeat for all tomatoes.
Then, use the parchment paper to easily transfer the tomato purée.
best way to cook meatballs and tomato sauce
Heat a large, wide saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil when the pan is hot and lift the pan to distribute the oil evenly. Add meatballs to the hot pan to lightly sear (photo 3).
When meatballs are seared, add minced garlic, tomato paste, and stir. Once fragrant (about 30 seconds), add tomato purée, basil, and salt into the pan (photo 4).
Stir and allow to reduce for 15 minutes over medium-high heat (photo 5). The meatballs will continue to cook in the sauce.
mise en place – handy prep table to use while making this recipe
|zucchini||1 pound||wash and grate|
wring out moisture with cheesecloth
|garlic||2 cloves||peel and mince|
make into garlic paste
|shallots||2 small||peel and mince|
|fresh basil||1 small bunch||pick leaves|
reserve stems for tomato sauce
|make meatballs||combine prepped ingredients|
(zucchini, garlic, shallot,
basil, ground turkey,
salt and pepper)
|tomatoes||5 pounds||wash and grate with a box grater|
|garlic||1 clove||peel and mince|
COOKING WITH KIDS – what can the kids help with?
- pick fresh basil leaves
- wringing zucchini-filled cheesecloth
- help shape meatballs (with gloves on)
extra recipe tips and ideas
- For quicker and more even textured meatballs, you can add roughly cut garlic, shallots, basil, salt, and pepper into a small food processor instead of mincing and slicing. Continue to mix this blended mixture with the grated zucchini and ground turkey according to this recipe
- Adding a small piece of parmesan rind (just the hard rind portion!) to the sauce while cooking is a great way to add depth to the flavor
This fresh tomato sauce recipe is inspired by my days from cooking at Haven’s Kitchen in NYC, where seasonal menus were created based on what was available at the local farmer’s markets.
It’s perfect as a rustic sauce for meatballs and great on pizzas too.
Happy cooking! ~ Cin
recipes that go well with turkey zucchini meatballs and tomato sauce
This dish is so good with spaghetti or your favorite type of pasta and would also pair well with a salad that features raw vegetables with a nice crunch.
- asparagus ribbon spring salad
- simple watermelon, cucumber, and mint salad
- browse all summer recipes
- summer ratatouille salad by jamie oliver
Please give this recipe a star rating below and leave a comment. I would appreciate it so much and want to hear from you! Don’t forget to tag a photo on Instagram with #healthyfeels or @healthyfeelslovely. I would love to see what you come up with!
Disclosure: The recipe below may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon
turkey zucchini meatballs with easy fresh tomato sauce
turkey zucchini meatballs:
- 1 pound zucchini or summer squash, washed and grated (about 2 cups grated)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced, and scraped with a knife into a paste (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt, kosher
- 2 small shallots, peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, reserve stems for tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
fresh tomato sauce (yields about 4 cups):
- 5 pounds tomatoes, heirloom or ripe summer tomatoes that are still slightly firm (about 8 large tomatoes yields about 6 cups tomato purée)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, extra virgin
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, kosher
- 2 sprigs fresh basil and leftover basil stems from meatballs
turkey zucchini meatballs:
- Wrap grated zucchini in a large piece of folded cheese cloth and wring the moisture out of the zucchini.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix grated zucchini, garlic paste made from 2 cloves of garlic, minced shallots, basil, salt, pepper, and ground turkey just until well incorporated. Tip: using your hands while wearing gloves is the easiest way to mix.
- Form 2 inch diameter meatballs with your hands by squeezing the mixture through your left thumb and index finger (technique shown in the cooking video).
fresh tomato sauce:
- Grate fresh tomatoes over the largest holes of a box grater over a parchment paper lined sheet tray until only the tomato skin and stem is left. It may help to cut a thin piece off the bottom of the tomato before grating if your tomatoes are still fairly firm. Repeat for all tomatoes. Use parchment paper to easily transfer tomato purée.
cooking the meatballs in sauce:
- Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil when the pan is hot and lift the pan to evenly distribute the oil. Add meatballs to the hot pan to lightly sear. When meatballs are seared, add minced garlic, tomato paste, and stir. Once fragrant (about 30 seconds), add tomato purée, basil, and salt into the pan. Stir and allow to reduce for 15 minutes over medium-high heat. The meatballs will continue to cook in the sauce.
- Serve meatballs with sauce by itself or over your favorite pasta.