Turkey Basil Pesto Meatballs

Those watching their waistlines will enjoy this light and flavorful twist on traditional heavy, red-meat meatballs. I got this recipe off of the Weight Watchers site, and loved the idea of a punch of pesto for seasoning. They went together pretty easy, and baked up quick too. I sautéed some mushrooms and heated up a jar of Trader Joe’s marinara sauce, and put the baked meatballs on a plate of zoodles (zucchini noodles), then topped with sauce. A sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese sealed it. It was quite good!

(Disclaimer: my husband got a plate of pasta for his serving. Can’t make the guy eat as many veggies as I do… And sometimes I’m just not in the mood for the “what are these?” questions, like I’m forcing him to eat live eels.)

I’d used my own homemade basil pesto which didn’t have as much salt as store-bought probably would, so the whole recipe needed an extra dash of salt after serving. Since my package of ground turkey was larger than what was called for, I also upped the amount of pesto. And I didn’t have whole wheat bread crumbs on hand, so I used regular Panko crumbs. My adjustments to the recipe are reflected below.

Makes 24 meatballs

1.5 pounds lean ground turkey, uncooked
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs, or whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 cup prepared basil pesto, low-fat, if possible
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, gently combine all ingredients—do not overmix or meatballs will be tough. Roll into 24 meatballs (1 1/4-in each); place on prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned and cooked through, 20 minutes.

Serving size: 4 meatballs
Weight Watchers points: 6

Serving Suggestion for 4

8-ounces baby bella mushrooms
1 jar Trader Joe’s marinara sauce
Prepared zoodles or pasta
Parmesan cheese for topping (1 tablespoon each)

Weight Watchers Note: With these serving suggestions, this was a 9 point meal. 1/2 cup of marinara sauce was 2 points, and the Parmesan cheese was 1 point. And it was super filling!

Spinach Ricotta Crespelles

IMG_0747Feeling like a little Italian for dinner, but don’t want the heavy post-pasta blues? These “crespelles” are basically manicotti, but made from scratch, and so much lighter than store-bought boxed noodles. Think crepes, only Italian, and you get the idea. I’ve been making this dish for several years, and my husband Rich has yet to miss the meat in this meal. First time I made these, I left one pan uncooked, thinking I could refrigerate it and have dinner ready for another night. But they got soggy from sitting uncooked in the sauce, and were really nasty. So I suggest baking both of the pans at the same time, then reheating one when you have “leftover buffet” another night. (That’s my son Mitchell’s favorite meal—a little of this, a little of that—all the leftovers together on the table in one glorious feast.)

The only indicator on my hard copy print out of where I got this recipe, is a tiny little note that says “Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes.” But I’ve got no link, or even the name of the original recipe. Sorry I’m not able to give proper credit on this one! The recipe called for reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, and only egg whites in the crespelles, but I usually use the real deal cheese and 2 whole eggs, yolks and all. Hey, you only live once! It also called for frozen spinach, but I’ve found the fresh tastes so much better.

Makes 12 crispelles, 6 servings

For filling

16-ounce container of part-skim ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, reserve 1/2 cup for topping
1 large egg
6-ounce bag of fresh spinach, chopped (or half of 9-ounce bag)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

For crispelles

1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups 1% or skim milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
drizzle of olive oil, or olive oil spray

1 28 or 32 ounce jar of marinara sauce, like Trader Joe’s Organic Marinara or Classico Tomato Basil Marinara

Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit. In large mixing bowl, combine ricotta and 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, one egg, spinach, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Stir until ingredients are incorporated. Set aside. Pour some of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9″x12″ baking dish, as well as in a 9″x9″ baking dish. Reserve some marinara for topping crespelles.

In blender or mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment, combine flour, milk, eggs, oil, and salt. Blend or beat until batter is smooth and no lumps of flour remain. Heat 6-inch non-stick fry pan on medium heat. Lightly spray or drizzle pan with olive oil. Pour 1/4 cup batter into pan and slowly swirl around pan until batter evenly coats bottom of pan. Cook until edges of crespelles are dry, then flip to lightly brown other side. Turn cooked crespelle onto a cutting board, and place 1/4–1/3 cup of the spinach and cheese filling down the center of the crespelle. Roll up crespelle around filling to make a tube. Place seam-side down in one of the baking dishes. (8 crespelles will fit in 9″x12″ pan, and 4 in the 9″x9″ pan.) Continue making crespelles in fry pan, then filling with spinach and cheese mixture until all 12 crespelles are done. Pour remaining marinara sauce on top of crespelles, and top with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

NOTE: I’ve got 10 points assigned to 2 spinach-filled crespelles in Weight Watcher’s code…but that’s if you’re using the reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, and 2 egg whites plus one whole egg in the crespelles. I grabbed this recipe online back in 2010, and I think WW had a different point system at that time than they currently use. At any rate, it’s still lower cal than most traditional Italian dishes!