Monday, January 21, 2013

Turkey Meatballs and Caprese Boccatini

Day 10 of being wheat free. Can I hear a woot-woot!?

And with meals like I'm about to share with you, I don't need no stinking wheat. Ha! (.......Until I pass someone eating a cinnamon roll, sigh. Keep on keepin on, right?!) today's meal is an homage to my husbands heritage: Italiano!

I think when most people think of Italian faire, they think of heavy, delicious, carb laden food. Which is true, most of the time. In fact, today's meal was inspired by a visit this weekend to our favorite family-owned Italian restaurant. (Quick shout to Marechiaro's on 2nd Street! Support your local businesses!) Though Marechiaros has long been a favorite spot, this was my first visit there since being wheat free. (If you are wondering why I would subject myself to the aromas of pizza and garlic bread, my husband the paisan wanted his people's comfort food. :) It was the least I could do after a long week. Also, wheat-free is never gonna work if I don't find something to eat even in the most unlikely of places.) The menu left little options for the wheat-free diet. However, after several questions to the chef (via our very nice and understanding waitress), I settled on a meal of caprese, lentil soup, and antipasto salad. A bit of a disjointed mix of food, but super tasty nonetheless. (I had even inquired about veggie lasagna without the noodles, lol, but that was gonna be rather difficult.)

So today, after surrounding myself with the irresistable aromas of Italian food, I found myself craving it once again. Here is my fresh, grain free take on the classic flavors of Italy!

Turkey Meatballs and Caprese Boccatini

I assembled my standard turkey meatballs (check out this post for the original inspiration, but was rather more heavy-handed with the basil and oregano. Today I used the following:

1lb ground turkey
1/2 handful each fresh oregano and mint, minced (this is rather Greek, but since discovering this flavor combo, I can't depart from mint in my turkey meatballs. Another match made in heaven)
1 handful fresh basil leaves, minced
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic
1 egg, beaten

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Note: Food network is always saying to use meat that was been raised to room temp so that it doesn't seize up during cooking and become tough. I'm sure this is valid. However, I find a more practical reason to do this is so my hands don't freeze to death while mixing and forming the balls. Seriously. I despise that feeling. Oh, and I use an ice cream scoop to form the balls and ensure they are uniform in size.

Heat a few T of olive oil in a skillet. I prefer cast iron for cooking these. Add meatballs to HOT pan in order to get a good, golden crust on one side and flip halfway through to get a crust on the other side. Should take 10-15 minutes to cook. Set aside.

Caprese Boccatini
1/2 bunch basil leaves
1/2 c Boccatini mozzarella (you can find in the cheese aisle, it's usually packed in water)
1 tomato, cut in small wedges
Olive oil

Combine first three ingredients in a bowl and adjust proportions to your liking. I always end up adding more cheese. Assemble a portion on the center of your plate, along with a healthy drizzle of olive oil and fresh ground sea salt and some pepper. Note: I have found that fresh ground sea salt and a little oiive oil is absolutely VITAL to a good Caprese. Vital.

I made my plate with the salad in the center and meatballs surrounding....not only was it pretty, but it made it easy to scoop up all the deliciousness in one bite. The complimentary flavors make one cohesive plate.....and presto! Italiano is served, fresh and light!

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