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5 from 3 votes

turkey zucchini meatballs with easy fresh tomato sauce

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!
prep time30 mins
cook time15 mins
total time45 mins
course: Main Course
cuisine: Italian, Seasonal
keyword: comfort, meatballs, summer, tomato sauce, zucchini
difficulty: moderate
servings: 4 people
author: cindy chou


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. 


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.
tried this recipe?Mention @healthyfeelslovely or tag #healthyfeels! I'd love to see what you made.