RECIPE: Quick meatball dish to bridge the seasons

Herbed Turkey Meatballs with Rice Noodles. Henri Hollis for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Henri Hollis

Credit: Henri Hollis

When I’m planning my weekly meals this time of year, I usually look to bridge recipes — ones that aren’t too summery or too autumnal. There’s substance to each meal, and while they often still contain an abundance of vegetables and greenery, they are usually warm and comforting enough to satisfy when a pop-up thunderstorm brings in a rush of cooler wind.

This turkey meatball dinner is one such recipe.

Packed with herbs, lime zest, umami-rich fish sauce, and lean protein, the meatballs themselves are far lighter than the rich, Italian varieties fried and swimming in red sauce. Broiling the meatballs, instead of frying, saves some hands-on cooking time and keeps the final dish from feeling weighed down with oil.

To pair with the herbed meatballs, I like to boil rice noodles instead of Italian pasta. They’re gluten-free (if that’s a concern), cook very quickly, and give the meal a lighter touch, especially when tossed with lime juice, more fish sauce, more herbs, and just a bit of vegetable oil. I like to use 1/4-inch-thick rice noodles here (the type usually labeled for pad Thai), but feel free to grab whatever is available at the grocery store. You can serve the noodles slightly warm or at room temperature — whichever best suits the weather.

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Herbed Turkey Meatballs with Rice Noodles. Henri Hollis for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Henri Hollis

Credit: Henri Hollis

Herbed Turkey Meatballs with Rice Noodles
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably 93% lean
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, mint, or a combination, divided
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1 to 2 limes
  • 1 pound 1/4-inch-thick rice noodles, such as for pad Thai (see note)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Heat a broiler to high with the oven rack placed in the position closest to the heating element. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
  • While the broiler and water are heating, prepare the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine the turkey, 1/2 cup herbs, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, and the zest of 1 of the limes. Using damp hands, form 16 walnut-sized meatballs. Place on a broiler-safe wire cooling rack set in a rimmed sheet pan. Broil until browned on top and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, add the noodles to the boiling water and cook until just turning tender, 5 to 7 minutes, then drain and rinse with cool water. Drain very well, then transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining tablespoon fish sauce, juice of the zested lime, and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Toss well, then give the noodles a taste. Stir in additional fish sauce, lime juice, and oil to taste. Add the remaining 1/4 cup herbs and meatballs, and serve.
  • Note: If you cannot find noodles of this thickness, you can use a different size; follow the cooking directions on the package. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 716 calories (percent of calories from fat, 29), 30 grams protein, 95 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 23 grams total fat (5 grams saturated), 78 milligrams cholesterol, 1,334 milligrams sodium.

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