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Mini Mozzarella-Stuffed Turkey Zucchini Meatball Orrechiette

By Cindy Rahe
Created January 10, 2017
Teeny turkey and zucchini meatballs boast a gooey surprise inside in this easy weeknight pasta dish!
Mini Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey-Zucchini Orrechiette

When I was a kid, I loved spaghetti and meatballs, but, we never, ever had it at home. I’m not sure why, but we were a strictly spaghetti and meat sauce family. I would always order meatballs if we were out at a restaurant...I couldn't help myself! I just loved the pile of twisty noodles crowned with hearty meatballs. I think I was influenced by that perfect noodle-kissing scene in "Lady and the Tramp." I mean, candle light, romance and puppies! Nostalgia aside, to this day, my love for meatballs abides. 

These meatballs are made of lean ground turkey mixed with freshly grated zucchini for keeping them moist and delicious. These babies would be perfect on their own, but stuffing them with little pearls of mozzarella is a pretty great idea. I mean, who can resist a ooey, gooey, cheesy middle?! The sauce comes together super simply with a few aromatics and a can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes, plus tons of fresh basil. I like the shape of orecchiette because their bowl-like nature sort of hugs the meatballs…and I just love that kind of thing.

To begin, we grate a zucchini on a box grater, then, we sprinkle it with a little bit of salt and let it hang out. The zucchini will release a bunch of water, which we then squeeze in a clean tea towel or in a strainer.

shredded zucchini

Then, we mix up the meatball ingredients. There’s ground turkey, the grated zucchini, grated onion, garlic, salt, pepper, an egg, Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.


We are making tiny meatballs here, like 1 teaspoon of meat per ball. You can scale them up if you want. Just use more meat and larger balls of cheese.

making meatballs

Flatten the meatball mixture and add your mozzarella pearl.

making meatballs with cheese

Then, we seal ‘em up!

rolling meatballs

Pop the stuffed meatballs on a lined sheet pan and bake! While they bake, we make the sauce and finish it with fresh basil.

cooking meatballs in sauce

Once the meatballs are baked and the pasta is cooked, we toss everyone together and call the family in for dinner!

Mini Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey-Zucchini Orrechiette