Turkey Arugula Pesto Meatballs (Gluten Free + Dairy Free) To Help You Fight Depression This Fall + Winter
Love meatballs? Here’s a delicious turkey meatball recipe made with arugula pesto, with hints of walnuts and rosemary and coconut milk to add creaminess to the sauce…with all the pasta you can eat. The best part is they help you beat those winter blues.
Because in all honesty, is there any other way to truly eat a meatball?
Well. Okay, there are other ways to enjoy meatballs but the pasta, the way the sauce swims around it. Seeing as it’s the start of the week, we are in full fall mode here in Colorado and the weather is dropping creating the perfect weather to make these incredible turkey arugula pesto meatballs. Not only are these meatballs perfectly moist and delicious but they are incredible for you. I’ve been meaning to share this recipe with you all for a couple days now but my everlasting cold as kept me away.
I honestly created this recipe out of pure need. To set the scene and give you all a glimpse at what was going on. It was Thursday night, pretty chill outside and all I wanted was a bowl of pasta and meatballs. The only problem was I had no tomatoes or canned tomatoes so I basically had to improvise and figure out what to do to dress up my turkey meatballs and pasta cravings.
I’ve been working on a hemp seeds cashew parm and thought it would be cool to add hemp seeds into the turkey meatballs for added anti-inflammatory benefits among with extra omega -3 fats. I like that it adds to the cheesy flavor and really creates this incredible luxurious meatball.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF WALNUTS
Walnuts are one of my favorite nuts not only for their almost meaty texture but also for their amazing health benefits. They are high in omega three fatty acids, vitamin E, fiber, healthy fats, and protein. Studies have shown that walnuts help add good bacteria to our gut which you know is amazing for our mental health and health in general. They make the perfect base for this pesto, adding a nice nutty flavor to it as well. Walnuts have been shown to also increase brain function and oxidative stress.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF TURKEY
Remember that turkey has high levels of tryptophan an amino acid that is essential in humans, our bodies don’t produce it so the only way to obtain it is through our diet. Tryptophan is a messenger for the neurotransmitter serotonin and the hormone melatonin. Research suggests that serotonin deficiency is found in patients with anxiety and depression. I like to increase my turkey intake during the fall and winter months, to help me not fall into a depressive state. Check out this article here on the positive effects of tryptophan on depression.
I use this really cool trick I learned in culinary school, where you add cream soaked bread into your meatballs, I sub out the cream with coconut cream to keep them dairy free. To keep the pesto on the lighter side and not too olive oil heavy I use bone broth in the pesto to keep it creamy and also add gut health support. The rosemary is a tribute to my mom who would make this walnut rosemary pesto and literally use it on everything, it’s a small tribute to my childhood as you all know every single recipe on this blog has a tribute to some food memory. It’s my way of holding on to moments.
Turkey Arugula Pesto Meatballs (Gluten Free + Dairy Free)
INGREDIENTS FOR THE TURKEY ARUGULA PESTO MEATBALLS
arugula walnut pesto
2 cup of arugula
1/2 cup of parsley
3 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, stemmed removed if too woody
1 1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup of hemp seeds
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of bone broth
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
salt + pepper to taste
1 pound of ground dark turkey meat
2 cloves of minced garlic
3 tablespoons of arugula walnut pesto
2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup of hemp seeds turned into hemp flour, see note *
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, dial down to 1 teaspoon if you like it mild
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 cup of full-fat coconut milk
2 slices of gluten-free bread, let dry out in the oven
1/2 cup of full-fat coconut milk + 1 cup of additional bone broth, for the sauce
cooked gluten-free pasta, for serving
DIRECTIONS FOR THE TURKEY ARUGULA PESTO MEATBALLS
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl add the coconut milk, and break up the dried out bread into small teaspoon like pieces. Let sit for about five minutes. Then add the rest of the ingredients and combine without overmixing. Shape your meatballs to about two tablespoon size balls, you will get about 10-12 meatballs. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
In a large pot set over medium heat, add the coconut milk, bone broth and simmer for about 10minutess. Add the meatballs and an additional 1/4 cup of pesto. Simmer the meatballs for an additional 8-10 minutes before serving with the pasta.