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Ottolenghi's Turkey Corn Meatballs Recipe

a pile of turkey corn meatballs on a white plate with a small bowl of red pepper dipping sauce in the background

These tender, light and flavorful turkey meatballs are stuffed with corn, scallions and fresh herbs and are perfect for summer. Serve them for dinner with a salad, or as an appetizer with red pepper dipping sauce on the side.

Ingredients

Scale

For The Roasted Red Pepper Sauce: (see notes below for an alternate, quick and easy sauce)

  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ounce cilantro leaves and stems (about 1/3 of a large bunch)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small mild chili (red or green)
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce (see notes for substitutions)
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

For The Meatballs

  • 2/3 cup / 100g corn kernels (fresh or frozen)*
  • 3 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed
  • 1 pound / 500g of ground turkey (white or dark meat)
  • 1 large egg
  • 4-6 scallions, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed through a garlic press
  • Vegetable oil for pan-frying

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF / 200ºC. To make the red pepper sauce, quarter the peppers and remove the seeds and white pith. Put them in a baking pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Roast them for 35 minutes, until tender. Let them cool for 10 minutes or so and then peel off the skin that is loose and easiest to pull off. It's not necessary to get it all.
  2. Put the roasted peppers in a blender or food processor along with any accumulated cooking juices. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients: the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt (1 teaspoon), cilantro, garlic, chili, chili sauce (2 tablespoons), and vinegar (2 tablespoons). Process until smooth. Taste and correct seasoning with added salt, if necessary.  Set sauce aside while you make the meatballs. Note: the sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  3. To make the meatballs, place a heavy skillet (cast iron is perfect) over high heat. When hot, add the corn kernels and sauté, tossing constantly, for 2-3 minutes, until they're toasted and browned in spots. Transfer them to a bowl to cool. Wipe out the pan.
  4. Soak the bread in cold water for a minute or so, then squeeze to get most of the water out, and crumble the bread into a large mixing bowl. Add the turkey, egg, scallions, parsley, cumin, salt, pepper and garlic and mix well, using your hands.
  5. With wet hands, shape the mixture into ping-pong-ball sized balls and set them on a plate. In the same skillet used for the corn, heat 1/4 inch of oil over medium-high heat until hot, and pan-fry the meatballs in batches, turning them frequently until they're golden brown on all sides (1-2 minutes per batch). Set the meatballs on a foil-lined baking pan, as you go. Transfer the baking pan to the oven and continue to cook the meatballs for 4-5 minutes longer (at 400F), until they're cooked through. Serve them hot or warm, with sauce on the side.

Notes

Corn: If using fresh corn, 2 ears of corn on the cob will yield more than enough corn kernels for this recipe.

Sweet chili sauce substitute: 1 1/2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup + 1 teaspoon of sriracha.

A quick easy sauce alternative: If you don't have time to make the roasted pepper sauce, make the Lemony Yogurt Sauce sauce from this recipe. It will take you all of 5 minutes to throw together and it's utterly divine with these meatballs!

Keywords: healthy turkey meatballs made with corn scallions and herbs