If you are looking for a creative way to sneak a variety of vegetables into your family’s diet, then believe it or not these Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs in Roasted Red Pepper Sauce will do the trick! Of course the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce has vegetables (roasted red peppers and tomatoes) but I also sneak vegetables into the meatballs….
Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs Sneak In a Variety of Veggies
Although I promise nobody will ever be able to tell just by taste-testing, the turkey meatballs actually have a lot of vegetables, including carrots, garlic, onion and cauliflower. Just like with my Healthy Turkey Meatloaf recipe, not only do the vegetables add a hefty phytonutrient-booster, they also contribute a delicious savory flavor to the meatballs. They even make the meatballs more moist!
But you definitely don’t want to pile in a bunch of raw vegetables with your ground meat. The key to making the addition of a lot of vegetables work in either a meatball or meatloaf recipe is to use a food processor to mince the vegetables into teeny tiny pieces and then saute them in a little extra virgin olive oil before mixing with the meat. It’s an extra step, but it’s definitely worth it!
As for the sauce, it is not an afterthought. Vibrant and red, it might look like your everyday marinara, but by adding coriander, lime and roasted red pepper puree you get a distinct Middle Eastern flavor that is distinctly different than an Italian-style red sauce. By slow cooking the meatballs in the zesty, savory saucy mixture, you’ll get a super flavorful and very moist turkey meatball.
- 1 jar (12-ounces) roasted red peppers, drained
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes (such as Cento brand)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt, divided (plus more to taste)
- 4 tablespoons Annie’s Naturals “Organic Worcestershire Sauce”, divided
- 2 teaspoons coriander, divided
- Juice from 1/2 lime
- 2 teaspoons raw honey
- 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 cup frozen chopped cauliflower OR 1 cup fresh cauliflower blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes
- 1 pound pasture-raised ground turkey
- 1 package (8 ounces) tempeh, crumbled
- 1 pastured egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup Ian’s Naturals “Whole Wheat Panko Crumbs” (see notes below for gluten free alternative)
- 3 tablespoons Annie’s Naturals “Organic Worcestershire Sauce”
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- In a food processor, add the roasted red peppers, crushed tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon coriander, lime juice and raw honey; process until smooth and creamy.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a large baking pan.
- Place carrots, onion and garlic in a food processor and process until very, very finely chopped. Remove vegetables from food processor and add the cauliflower; process cauliflower until very, very finely chopped.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat; add the carrots and garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Season lightly with salt. Add the cauliflower and saute for 2-3 minutes. Season with additional salt, to taste.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together the ground turkey and egg. Stir in the vegetables. Add the panko crumbs (or toasted bread crumbs), remaining 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, remaining 1 teaspoon of coriander and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Form meat mixture into 20 meatballs. Place meatballs on a baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
- Remove meatballs from the oven. Carefully transfer to a crock-pot. Pour the prepared sauce on top. Cover and cook on low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Serve warm.
If you want to make the turkey meatballs gluten free you can substitute one slice of gluten free whole grain bread (such as Canyon Bakehouse brand) for the panko crumbs. You’ll want to toast the bread and then use the food processor to process into crumbs before continuing on with the recipe.
LOOKING FOR MORE EVERYDAY HEALTHY DINNER RECIPES?
If you liked the recipe for Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs, be sure to check out a full month’s menu of delicious healthy dinner recipes (including weekly shopping lists!) in our Clean Cuisine Dinners digital cookbook.