These tender, bite-sized meatballs are packed with turkey and spinach and pack an unexpected, slightly spicy bite thanks to the addition of cayenne and red pepper flakes. Plus, they’re gluten-free!
I’m not sure about you, but I’m busy during the week (like, really busy). I roll out of bed at 6:00, throw on clothes and make breakfast, then commute 45 minutes to work. Then I work until 4:30 and commute 45 minutes back home (on a good day with minimal traffic) and work out. And then I come home ready to devour my dinner.
As you can see, I don’t have all that much time on my hands to cook on weeknights after all is said and done — and, let’s be real, I don’t have much desire to do so. But I do like to eat very healthy as often as I can, and I’m usually pretty darn hungry after my workouts. So what do I do?
I’ve mentioned my secret weapon on this blog a few times now: meal prep. Literally can’t live without it. These meatballs are the perfect option to cook up on a Sunday afternoon and then reheat and enjoy throughout the week. They’re not very time-consuming to make at all and they’re delicious: lean yet juicy ground turkey is combined with chopped spinach.
Sound pretty standard? The variety of spices are anything but: they really kick up the flavor and make things interesting. They’re not too spicy (my husband won’t do really, really spicy) but the beauty is that you can simply up the cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes a bit if you prefer really hot flavor. I’d say these are somewhere right in the middle of the spicy scale.
If you’re gluten-free, you’ll be happy to hear that these contain almond flour instead of breadcrumbs, so get your oven mitts ready. And if you’re paleo, you can simply omit the cheese or sub an additional 1/4 cup almond flour.
Spicy Baked Spinach & Basil Turkey Meatballs
Makes 16 meatballs [20 minutes prep time + 25 minutes bake time]
1 pound ground turkey
6 oz baby spinach
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup almond flour (divided in half)
Olive oil, for cooking
Preheat oven to 400F.
Preheat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat, then add the spinach. Saute for approximately 5 minutes or until the spinach is bright green in color and wilted. Set aside and pat dry using paper towels to absorb as much of the water as possible. Roughly chop the spinach into bite-sized pieces.
In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, chopped spinach, parmesan cheese, egg, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, dried basil, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup of the almond flour. Use your hands to gently but thoroughly combine, careful not to overwork the meat (it may become less tender the more you work with it).
Using your hands, roll the mixture into meatballs. I made mine about 1.5″ to 2″ wide and this yielded 16 meatballs.
Add the almond flour to a bowl or plate. Gently roll each meatball in the almond flour until coated.
Space out the meatballs on a baking sheet. I used a non-stick silicone mat underneath (and I sing their praises! They are magical.) but if you don’t have one, you may line your baking sheet with foil and then spray with cooking spray before laying down the meatballs.
Cook on 400F for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Enjoy!