homemade marinara + Italian turkey meatballs

This past weekend we had a storm hit us on the pacific west coast (PNW as the cool kids call it), you might remember me getting prepared for it last week with soups and baked goods. Well let’s just say it was a bit of a disappointment. It wasn’t nearly as bad as they said it was going to be, at least here in Victoria. I did hear up island further (I live on Vancouver Island) got hit worse. But there were no power outages around me or any fallen debris, which is always a good thing. Although I was secretly hoping I would have to light some candles and maybe even cook dinner on our wood stove…I almost did it just for fun, but then realized the stove is a lot easier and I wanted to watch a movie so power won that game.

It was quite windy, rainy and grey though so I spent the entire weekend indoors (except for a little hiking adventure on Sunday morning) in my kitchen creating some yummy upcoming posts for you guys. I am super excited about these two posts; I think you guys are going to love them! But this week it is all about the marinara and meatballs…

I have had this meatball recipe and photos done for some time now, I was actually going to wait until next summer to share them with you guys because I kinda let the ball drop on sharing and figured that tomato season would be over, BUT I was at the market on Friday and it was filled with so many local, no spray, beautiful tomatoes still. I was so excited because I really didn’t want to have to wait to share but at the same time I wanted you to be able to make it right away and now I know you can!

I made this marinara with meatballs all summer long, literally at least once a week and sometimes twice and I have made them a few times this fall season too. The meatballs are hearty yet light, filled with an abundance of fresh herbs to give them lots of flavour. I also added some red wine, which really brings out the tomatoes and gives the marinara some richness.

The marinara is so simple but it really gives you that accomplished feeling making it from scratch and the flavour, well you can’t get that kind of freshness from a jar. Really the hardest part is cutting the tomatoes, other than that you just let everything simmer so it really doesn’t take much effort, contrary to what may seem. I suppose you could always buy a jar and make the meatballs but where would the fun be in that?

homemade marinara + Italian turkey meatballs

marinara ingredients

4 pounds of small vine tomatoes

2 onions

6 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp of olive oil

2 tbsp of butter

1/3 cup fresh oregano

1/3 cup fresh basil

1/3 cup fresh thyme

1 cup red wine + 2 tbsp 

1 tsp Himalayan salt

1 tsp fresh pepper

turkey meatballs

2 pounds of turkey

1 onion

4 cloves of garlic

1 egg

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/3 cup fresh parmesan

1/4 cup fresh oregano

1/4 cup fresh basil

1/4 cup fresh thyme

2 tsp of Himalayan salt

2 tsp of pepper

3 tbsp of butter

2 tbsp of olive oil


preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

for the marinara:

cut the tomatoes in half, roughly chop the onion and garlic and finely chop the herbs. heat a large deep set  oven safe pan on medium heat and add in the olive oil and butter, next add in the tomatoes, garlic and onion. cover and turn the heat down to a simmer and let the tomatoes soften and simmer for at least an hour.

once the tomatoes have completely softened add in the cup of red wine and herbs. let this simmer for another 10 minutes. with an immersion blender, blend the tomato mixture until it is completely smooth. turn the stove down between 1 and 2 and let sit while you make the meatballs.

for the meatballs:

finely chop the herbs, mince the onion and garlic. add all of the meatball ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. I made my meatballs quite large as I was making them a meal but you could make smaller ones if you wanted to have this dish with pasta. roll the meatballs into large balls and place on a plate. 

on medium to high heat add 3 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of olive oil to a pan. brown the meatballs on all sides. once browned add all of the meatballs to the marinara, pouring the pan drippings over top along with the extra splashes of red wine. mix the meatballs into the sauce, making sure they are completely covered.

place the pan in the oven for 40 minutes, turning the meatballs over after 20 minutes. serve with a side baguette for soaking up all that extra marinara or alternatively you could serve these meatballs over your favourite pasta.