While searching for a different meal to change up our usual regime, I came across several different variations of Swedish Meatball Pasta, an intriguing dish that featured beef meatballs and egg noodles in a thin, cheesy cream sauce. Of course my first thought was, how can I make this lighter, but still give it southern charm? Well, I thought, as we all know, ground turkey is leaner than ground beef, not to mention healthier. Milk is better than cream…..vegetables better than most things…and so, this recipe was born. Skinny Swedish Meatball Penne is light, kid-friendly, and company friendly. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like pasta, and while not everyone enjoys meatballs, they are generally accepted by most. Hey, if you don’t like the meatballs in this dish, don’t eat them! Eat not, complain not, I always say. While the following recipe may seem complicated, I promise that it is not, it just sounds that way. Unfortunately it does exceed the time limit of both twenty-minute meals and Easy Weekday Dinners, however, I promise that you will not be disappointed if you choose to take a few extra minutes to make this meal.;) This episode of Delicious Food 101 features The Chef, Friar Tyst, and The Health Inspector.
The Chef: “Friar Tyst, your thoughts, if you please?” Friar Tyst: “There’s some kind of strong flavor in here, a little too strong.” The Chef: “You mean the fresh parsley?” Friar Tyst: “Yeah, there’s way too much parsley in here.” The Chef: “I’m sorry you don’t like it, I’ll make sure to not add extra to your portion next time.”
The Chef: “Mr. Health Inspector, what do you think?” The Health Inspector: “Tastes good to me, the meatballs are really good.” The Chef: “I’m so glad you like it!”
The Meatballs: 1/2 lb. ground turkey, 1 slice whole wheat sandwich bread, 1/3 cup coconut milk (the canned kind), 1/2 to 3/4 cup seasoned garlic breadcrumbs, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp. onion powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. ground cumin.
The Pasta & Sauce: 1 lb. penne, 2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup vegetable broth, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, 1/2 yellow onion, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 4 tbsp. butter, 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. paprika, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley.
Note: If using two different broths is too complicated, just use 3 cups of one of the other, I only use both for the sake of having a variety of flavors.;)
Meatballs for the Win: Shred the slice of bread roughly with your hands. Add it, the ground turkey, coconut milk, and the egg to a medium mixing bowl. Combine with a rubber spatula. Add the breadcrumbs and spices. If the mixture seems too dry, add a couple of extra tablespoons of coconut milk. Set aside. Cover the bottom of a large saucepan with vegetable oil, bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Using a cookie scoop, add the meatballs, rotate them every minute or so to prevent burning and encourage even cooking. Cook about eight or so at a time until they are all cooked. Each batch of meatballs will take eight to ten minutes to cook through. Dice the onion fry it until translucent in the turkey grease. Discard the grease when the onion is cooked and pat the onion dry with a paper towel.
Pasta for President: Cook the penne to al dente, reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water, drain the noodles, and set both ingredients aside for now. Melt the butter in the de-greased pan you cooked the meatballs in. Add the flour, whisking constantly for one minute. Now add the broth or broths, evaporated milk, and spices, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally. Turn off the heat as soon as the sauce reaches a simmer. Add the parsley and cheese. Let sit for one minute. Add the pasta and meatballs, stir everything together until well combined. Serve immediately.