My friend Julia made these for me one time and I immediately asked for the recipe. Let them simmer all day and watch people crowd around the amazing aroma.
2 tablespoons olive oil plus 2 additional tablespoons
1 large yellow onion, very finely diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
coarse sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, pulsed in a food processor with their juice or crushed by hand
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 pound ground turkey (preferably dark meat)
1 pound spaghetti, cooked just before serving
1/4 cup basil leaves, roughly torn
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes, sweating it without giving it too much color.
2. When the onion’s soft, add the garlic and fennel seeds and season generously with salt and pepper (about a teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of pepper should do). Sauté for an additional 3 or 4 minutes.
3. Remove and reserve half of this onion mixture in a large mixing bowl.
4. Add the tomatoes and their juice to the remaining mixture in the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer while you make the meatballs. Be sure to put a little water in the tomato can, swish it around and add it to the pot (don’t waste a bit!).
5. To make the meatballs, combine the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, parsley, thyme and rosemary with the reserved onion mixture.
6. Add the turkey and egg and mush it all with your hands (the best tool for this job) just until everything is well-combined, don’t over mix.
7. Form the mixture into 1-1/2″ balls with your hands (of course you can make them whatever size you like).
8. Heat the last 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Making sure not to overcrowd the pan, brown the meatballs (should take about 5 minutes).
9. Put the browned meatballs into the simmering tomato sauce and let them cook, shaking the pot occasionally to roll the meatballs around, for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour and a half.
10. Taste the sauce and season with salt & pepper.
Serve with spaghetti and torn basil.
Originally featured in Great Sunday Dinners