Sage + Basil Turkey Meatballs with Angel Hair and Tomato Sauce

Spending part of a quiet sunday afternoon making sauce is one of the most relaxing things before the week begins. I've been doing this a lot recently, especially repurposing weekday leftovers into weekend pasta meals. After an excess of basil, and leftover roast chicken I made a batch of almond pesto, and another sunday was linguine with garlic kale and italian sausage. There's something comforting about the time it takes, and the big bowl you have at the end of it all. Robert and I were comparing recipes during the week, discussing what would be good this time. I had grandiose, elaborate plans for pasta sunday. Then it rolled around and I decided that I really just want to make sauce, and keep it simple. 

When my mom made sauce growing up, she finished off the meatballs and sausage in the simmering tomatoey goodness, which is what I've done here. For this recipe, the sauce doesn't take much time at all from start to finish, and you'll want to have your meatball mixture ready to go once you're at the simmering stage. Since the meatballs will finish their cooking process in the tomato sauce, that's the perfect time to get your pasta water going.

Sage + Basil Turkey Meatballs
16 oz ground turkey
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup breadcrumbs 
1 egg
4-5 sage leaves, chopped
4 basil leaves, chopped
ground black pepper

*other ingredients
whole wheat angel hair pasta, one box
fresh basil, chopped for topping
parmesan cheese, grated for topping

In a large bowl place the ground turkey, parmesan, breadcrumbs, sage, basil, and a healthy shake of ground black pepper and salt. Crack the egg on top and gently mix everything together until combined. Prepare a skillet over medium heat with olive oil, and form the mixture into small round balls, about 2" in diameter. Drop the meatballs so they aren't touching one another in the pan, depending on the size of your pan you can cook up to six at a time. Brown each side of the meatball until they are crisp and light brown. Drop the meatballs into the simmering sauce to finish cooking. The meatballs should be cooked through in 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 3 tablespoon salt and the whole wheat angel hair. Cook approximately 9 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Return cooked pasta to a large skillet over medium heat. Spoon sauce 1 cup at a time, mixing with pasta water in small quantities (about 2 tbs per addition) until sauce and pasta water is absorbed. Repeat until pasta and reaches desired sauce consistency. 

Top with meatballs, basil, and parmesan cheese.

Tomato Sauce
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes in sauce and coarsely crushed by hand
1/4 cup tomato paste
Small handful of fresh basil, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flake
2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat, warm olive oil. Saute onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook until caramelized and browned slightly, about 3 minutes more. Add tomatoes, red pepper, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil and reduce to a simmer, add basil and stir. Simmer, partially covered for about 30-45 minutes, stirring the sauce every 10 minutes. 

*similar recipe
Turkey Meatballs with Rustic Tomato Sauce