- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 small onions, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 (32 ounces each) cans crushed tomatoes
- 2 dried bay leaves
In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)
- 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 3/4 cup grated Romano cheese
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 cups Marinara Sauce (see above)
In a large bowl, stir together breadcrumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, 1/2 cup of the cheese, and 3/4 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine, being careful not to overwork the meat. Shape the meat mixture into bite-size balls. In a large skillet, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook without moving or turning the meatballs until brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, about 3 minutes longer. Continue to cook until all the sides are golden brown. Add the Marinara Sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the flavors blend, about 5 minutes. (The meatballs can be made up to this point 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm before continuing.)Transfer the meatballs to a platter, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve.
To serve with pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Place the cooked penne in the skillet with the remaining sauce and toss to coat. Transfer the pasta in a separate large serving bowl, and serve with the meatballs.
Side bar: The meatballs can be made ahead of time and reheated in a 250-degree oven before serving. They can also be made into mini meatballs and served as an appetizer.