Some people love olives, popping them whole, one after the other. They’re too strong for me to eat alone, but I do like the way they flavor sauces. Puttanesca is the perfect example. I had my heart set on making it when I realized I didn’t have any anchovies, so it turned into a Turkey Meatball Puttanesca. The result is a perfect winter comfort food, without being heavy and fattening. It’s actually incredibly healthy and you’ll be surprised how tender lean turkey can be.

This is one of those dishes you make in large batches because it reheats so well, and if you’re serving to company, it’s actually best the next day.

Turkey Meatball Puttanesca
~12-14 servings


  • 1 lb 11 oz lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, divided


  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the meatballs. Form into balls about 1″ or a little smaller. Makes roughly 109 little meatballs. Set aside.

turkey meatballs

2. (You have to make the meatballs in two batches.) In a large pot (preferably a dutch oven like LeCreuset), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil and half of the red pepper over medium heat. Add half of the meatballs in a single layer in the pot and brown all sides lightly. Remove to a bowl.

brown meatballs

3. Heat the rest of the oil and red pepper. Add the rest of the meatballs and brown all sides again. Now add the rest of the meatballs back in the pot. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and garlic. Bring to a boil.
4. Stir in olives and capers. Bring down to a simmer, cook covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and reduce for 5 more minutes. Serve with bread or over pasta.

turkey meatball puttanesca
posted by jessica at 10:32 AM Filed under Italian, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.