Mini Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Zucchini Meatball Orechiette
1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium)
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup 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
1 box (1 lb) orecchiette (tiny disk) pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz each) organic fire roasted diced tomatoes, un-drained
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1. Heat oven to 400F. 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 165F 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.
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 up to one month. Bake the meatballs in a 400F 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.