Turkey Meatballs in Arrabiata Sauce

There is something inherently cozy about tucking into a bowl of simmered red sauce and meatballs. It’s what I crave when the outside world feels weighty and too much. When I find myself feeling so small and overwhelmed there’s a bowl of slick noodles and warming sauce that somehow feeds hope as it fills me up. Or sometimes it’s simply what I crave on a cold evening.

Arrabiata is a simple sauce with a bit of heat - or a lot of heat if that’s what you prefer. The anchovy here adds a salty depth without leaving the dish tasting fishy. I am hesitant to say that you can leave it out as it adds so much but I will say it, just add a bit more salt in the process.

This is one of those meals that is easily doubled and can slip into the freezer for another night. It’s also sturdy enough to pass along to a friend who is need of a good home cooked meal.

Serves 4 to 6


1 pound/ 450 g ground dark turkey meat

1/2 cup / 50 grams finely grated Parmesan

1/3 cup/ 20 g panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch chili flake

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped basil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 small onion, finely diced, about 1/4 cup/60 g

1 egg

2 tablespoons olive oil


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 anchovies, minced

4 garlic cloves, sliced

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili flake (or more if desired)

28 ounce/800 g can crushed tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper


For the meatballs: In a large bowl combine the turkey, Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, oregano, chili flake, parsley, basil, garlic, onion, and egg. Stir just until everything is well mixed but take care not to over mix as you don’t want to toughen the meat. Sear a small amount of the mixture then taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Add the olive oil to a large skillet or dutch oven. Sear the meatballs over high heat until a deep, dark crust forms. Remove the meatballs from the pan and set aside while you prepare the sauce.

For the sauce: Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and saute the anchovy, garlic, and chili flake over medium high heat.

Once the garlic has turned golden carefully add the tomatoes. Stir in the oregano, sea salt, and pepper.

Return the meatballs to the pan then gently simmer until they are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve over creamy polenta or pasta.

Recipe by Not Without Salt at