Mini Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Zucchini Meatball Orrechiette

Blogger Cindy Ensley of Hungry Girl por Vida makes turkey and zucchini meatballs stuffed with mozzarella. A tasty way to sneak in an extra serving of veggies!

  • Prep Time 40 min
  • Total Time 60 min
  • Servings 8

Meatballs

1
cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium)
Salt
1
egg
1
lb ground turkey
1/2
cup Progresso™ Italian style bread crumbs
1/3
cup grated red onion
2
tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2
teaspoon salt
1/4
teaspoon pepper
2
cloves garlic, grated
About 1/2 cup pearl mozzarella

Pasta

1
box (1 lb) orecchiette (tiny disk) pasta

Sauce

2
tablespoons olive oil
1/2
cup finely chopped onion
2
cloves garlic, finely chopped
2
cans (14.5 oz each) Muir Glen™ organic fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
Salt and pepper to taste
3
tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

  • 1 Heat oven to 400°F. Line sheet pan with cooking parchment paper or silicone nonstick baking mat. Sprinkle grated zucchini lightly with salt; toss to coat. Set aside while preparing other ingredients.
  • 2 Squeeze out as much of the zucchini liquid as you can; there will be a few tablespoons. Discard liquid.
  • 3 In large bowl, gently mix all Meatball ingredients except mozzarella cheese until combined. To make each Meatball, scoop 1 teaspoonful mixture into hand; flatten into a patty. Place 1 mozzarella pearl in center of patty; enclose cheese completely inside mixture. With hands, roll into ball; place in pan. Repeat to make remaining meatballs.
  • 4 Bake in center of oven about 20 minutes or until thermometer inserted in center of meatballs reads 165°F and cheese is melted.
  • 5 Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente as directed on box.
  • 6 To make Sauce, in 10-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion; cook until translucent. Add chopped garlic; cook 60 seconds longer. Stir in tomatoes with liquid. Simmer until most of liquid has been reduced. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat; stir in basil.
  • 7 Toss cooked pasta, meatballs and sauce. Garnish with additional fresh basil.

Expert Tips

You can make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze on a sheet pan in a single layer until frozen solid. Move the frozen meatballs to a resealable freezer plastic bag and freeze for 1 month. Bake the meatballs in a 400°F oven for about 30 minutes.

If you don’t have fresh basil, dried oregano is a great substitution in this pasta dish.

There are many sizes of mozzarella balls available today at most supermarkets. I used the smallest I could find, but use whatever size you like and make meatballs to correspond with your preferred size.