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Pesto Turkey Meatballs

I don’t feel 100% today. I can’t figure out of it’s the weather (cold, grey, snowy), lady problems, poor sleep, soreness from some challenging workouts…I just don’t know. I was sitting at work this morning and boom, migraine. It was time for migraine medication (even though it makes me feel just a tad bit loopy).

I had a hair appointment at noon because for whatever reason, I always think that’s a good time of day to schedule. It ended up that I didn’t have any patients or meetings scheduled this afternoon, so I took the rest of the afternoon off. I had a line-up at home that needed to get done: an oatmeal bake that requires use of the nearly rotten bananas on my kitchen counter, blogging, and my book club book that is 40% read for our 8pm Thursday book club discussion. There’s a 50/50 chance the book gets completed and that’s only because it’s super short.

I was pulling in the garage from my hair appointment, ready to tackle all that needed to get done this afternoon (despite feeling crappy) and I started getting all these emails about a Zoom call with 2 different SENATORS I’m… talking to tomorrow (??). Go ahead, take a guess as to how I got on the docket for this. Your guess is as good as mine.

Because I can’t say no to things despite Gina, my podcast co-host, coaching me along. I’m a work in progress, what can I say? I’ll now be spending my evening reviewing legislation around licensure for dietitians in the state of Michigan. And you know what? A worthy cause if there ever was one. I still don’t know how I got connected with state legislation efforts, but bring it. Michigan is one of only 2 US states without licensure for Registered Dietitians.

For this crazy day, perhaps my children will show me some grace this evening when it comes to dinner. I cringe a bit when I’m asked what’s for dinner each night. That said, last night went surprisingly well. Shea ate some sweet potato and didn’t hate it. Piper gave both the chicken and the sweet potato a thumbs up. This is big for us. My last mom win wasn’t all that long ago, however…

It was these Pesto Turkey Meatballs. Lovers of pesto in this house (do they really have a choice when their dad MASS PRODUCES basil all summer long!?), these meatballs were a hit. A bit time-consuming as meatballs are, but if you start the sauce first and plan to freeze leftovers (makes a ton!), it’s well worth the effort. I can honestly say these are some of the best meatballs I’ve ever had and you’d never guess they were turkey with how tender they were! Bon appetit!

Pesto Turkey Meatballs

Pesto Turkey Meatballs

Yield: 48 meatballs
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Not your average meatball! Thanks to pesto and breadcrumbs working in tandem, these turkey meatballs are tender and PACKED with flavor!



  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 6 garlic gloves, minced
  • 2 (28 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup pesto sauce
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs whites


  1. Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and carrot; saute for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and stir for 30-60 seconds, or until fragrant.
  2. Add remaining sauce ingredients, stir well and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and partially cover to limit splattering. Simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with a wire rack and mist with nonstick spray; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients. Mix well using your hands until thoroughly combined. Use a small scoop (about 2 tablespoons) to create meatballs, roll into balls and place on the prepared rack.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through. Add meatballs to the prepared sauce and serve hot.


Recipe slightly adapted from Baked Bree

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 4 meatballs
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 317Total Fat: 9.8gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 677mgCarbohydrates: 22.8gFiber: 4.1gSugar: 7.8gProtein: 35.1g

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Love meatballs? Pesto? Some of each for ya!

Be well,

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  1. Nancy
    January 26, 2021 / 5:45 pm

    Good luck with getting dietitians to be licensed in Michigan!

    • Nicole Morrissey
      January 29, 2021 / 10:19 am

      Thanks so much, Nancy!

  2. Julie
    January 26, 2021 / 11:07 pm

    I’m an RD is Wisconsin. We aren’t licensed either – I didn’t realize it was just our two states! Interesting. Good luck!! 🙂

    • Nicole Morrissey
      January 29, 2021 / 10:18 am

      Hi Julie! So interesting! I was under the impression it was Michigan and Arizona only. It’s a shame! Hope we were successful, or at least on the right path!

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