Smart Spaghetti and Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

California Walnut Board
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins

If you make this in the summer or fall, fresh basil really makes a difference. To keep the meatballs moist look for ground turkey that is a mixture of both white and dark meat and if you're short on time you can use a jar of organic tomato sauce.


1cup fresh, whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4cup milk
1large egg, beaten
1/2cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
2tablespoons minced flat-leafed parsley leaves
1clove garlic, very finely minced or pressed
1 1/2teaspoons kosher salt
1/2teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (scant)
1/4teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1pound ground turkey, mixture of both white and dark meat
1 to 2tablespoons olive oil, for brushing meatballs
Tomato Sauce:
1tablespoon olive oil
1large onion, finely chopped
1tablespoon minced garlic
1teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/4teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-- (32-ounce) can tomatoes, whole plum tomatoes including juice
3/4teaspoon kosher salt
3/8teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2pound spaghetti
1/4cup tightly packed basil leaves, cut into chiffonade, for garnish
2tablespoons minced fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk; let sit for 10 minutes. Add the egg and mix well. Add the walnuts, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; mix well. Add turkey and using one hand, lightly mix and squeeze together, to combine well. Don't over mix or the meatballs will be tough.Form mixture, using clean hands rinsed with cold water to prevent sticking, into 18 walnut-size balls and arrange on prepared baking sheet. 
  3. Brush the meatballs with the oil, or roll them in your oiled hands and set them back on the parchment.  Bake until firm when squeezed, but before they are overly browned, 15 to 20 minutes — they will continue cooking in the tomato sauce.
  4. While the meatballs are cooking, heat the oil for the sauce in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper 
  5. Transfer the meatballs to the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  6. While the meatballs are cooking in the tomato sauce, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Drain well and serve hot, topped with meatballs and sauce and garnish with the basil and parsley.

Recipe courtesy of Tina Salter

Nutritional Info *per serving

  • Calories 420
  • Glycemic Load 5
  • Fat 20g
  • Saturated Fat 4g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 8g
  • Cholesterol 85mg
  • Sodium 1150mg
  • Potassium 660mg
  • Carbohydrate 36g
  • Fiber 4g
  • Sugars 7g
  • Protein 26g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Vitamin A 10%
  • Vitamin C 30%
  • Calcium 20%
  • Iron 25%