Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Versatile Yogurt

I love yogurt. I eat yogurt for breakfast.
..and at my morning snack..
..I include it in my lunch, usually..
..and in that afternoon I always have a hankering for some Greek goodness.

In this dietitian’s house we often times will replace yogurt in our salad recipes (how about a creamy potato salad?!), making pasta sauces and soups extra creamy, or a dollop on tacos in place of sour cream.  The tang of plain Greek yogurt is a great mimic of sour cream--cutting the fat and calories and adding protein and healthy tummy bacteria.

This recipe produced perfectly savory and deliciously moist meatballs thanks to a couple heaping dollops of Greek yogurt in the mix.  Not to mention the layers of flavor from homemade roasted red pepper pesto.

Oh. My. Yum.
Can I mention that ‘homemade’ doesn’t have to be completely intimidating? Really, it doesn’t!  Trust this momma of 15-week-old babies (whoa...15 weeks already?!) I take the easy route more often than not-- especially during the work week. 

I prepped and baked these meatballs on Sunday afternoon while the girls napped and then reheated them in my favorite tomato sauce on the stove last night for dinner. I'm still preparing and cooking wholesome meals for my family, but being mindful that for now I’m on a three-hour schedule and I can’t take my sweet time and spend an hour on dinner.  That will change eventually, but for now this works.

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Turkey Meatballs

Red Pepper Pesto
1 (12oz) jar roasted red peppers
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves (about 10-15 leaves)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound 93/7 lean ground turkey or chicken
3 links Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons 0% Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Prepared red pepper pesto

2 cups store-bought marinara

Red Pepper Pesto
In a food processor, combine red peppers, basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, and salt. As the processor is running, drizzle olive oil until thick and combined.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a foil lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine turkey, sausage, egg, yogurt, salt, and pepper. Stir in the red pepper pesto, combining well with your hands. Mixture will be very wet. Add in breadcrumbs, more as needed to form 30 1.5-inch meatballs. Arrange formed balls on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 30-38 minutes (I baked mine for about 35 minutes). The meatballs can be prepared to this point up to 2 days in advance.
In a large skillet warm your favorite marinara sauce. Arrange meatballs, nestling into the sauce. Cover and allow to cook on medium until meatballs are warmed through and the sauce is bubbly.
Serve over pasta, prepared polenta, or a simple side of crusty sourdough for dipping.

Nutritional Information: (Makes 30 meatballs, 3 meatballs each)
Calories: 274; Fat: 16 g; Carbohydrate: 14 g; Fiber: 2 g; Protein: 18 g; Sodium: 645 mg

Amber Massey is a dietitian with the executive health program at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth and new Mom of 2-month-old twin girls.

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