House Beautiful

Pappardelle with Kale Pesto + Turkey Meatballs

I decided to make this week’s Friday Favorites about Pasta, aka my favorite food of all time.  AKA what I would eat for every meal if it didn’t mean weighing 897 pounds.  I love pasta the way Bubba loves shrimp – in all its forms – but pasta + a fat slab of butter has been holding court as my all-time favorite since I was 3.

However, last night’s dinner of Pappardelle with Kale Pesto & Turkey Meatballs is giving pasta + butter a run for its money.  I’ve been traveling tons for work lately, and have therefore been on a solid and depressing empty calorie diet of Skinny Pop, bottled water, protein bars and hospital cafeteria food…  bleh.  There’s nothing like being away from home a few nights a week that makes you appreciate how wonderful it is to see the people you love at the end of the day, and eat good food that you made with your own two hands.  That doesn’t come in a styrofoam container.  So, I’d been meaning to try this recipe for awhile, but wanted to add some meatballs.  Here’s how it went, kiddos:


(adapted from Meatball Nirvana – the hands-down best and easiest meatball recipe of all time)

1 pound ground turkey (I used 93% lean)

1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt

1 small onion, diced (throw that sucker in the food processor)

1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried basil (if my basil plant didn’t look like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, I would’ve used fresh)

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

3 dashes hot sauce (I use Frank’s…  use less if you don’t like it too hot & spicy)

1 1/2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup half & half

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix – you know it! – with your hands.  It’s the best way to make sure mixture is thoroughly blended.  Then roll ping pong-sized balls and place in a roasting pan lightly coated with olive oil.  This will yield about 25 meatballs.

3. Bake 15 minutes, then turn meatballs.  And by “turn,” I mean shake-the-pan-back-and-forth-for-a-few-seconds.  #easybutton.  Bake another 10 minutes.


(adapted from this recipe, which is outstanding – I changed very little)

1 bunch kale, washed (“bunch” confused me – but use a volleyball-sized pile, because it will cook down to nil)

1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (do about 5-7 min in the oven at 350 degrees, and give the pan a shake halfway through to make sure they toast evenly)

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled (use 2 cloves if you like, but not if you have to breathe on people the next day)

1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper

squeeze of lemon

1 package paparadelle, cooked al dente


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Blanch kale leaves – aka plunge kale leaves in water, then immediately drain and transfer into ice water to stop the cooking.  Drain kale in colander and use the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze the water out.  Or, better yet, pick a big fist of it up and squeeze it with your hand.  Then lay on paper towels and pat dry.

In a food processor, add kale with garlic, parmesan, and toasted pine nuts.  Add a generous pinch of salt and pulse briefly to combine and chop.  With machine running, drizzle in olive oil until you achieve a loose pesto-like consistency with some texture remaining.  At this point, give it a taste…  I ended up adding a squeeze of lemon to temper the garlic, and a dash of pepper. Blend once more.

Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente, drain & reserve 1 cup of cooking water.  Place pasta in a large bowl, add big spoonfuls of pesto and some pasta cooking water to loosen it all up.  Toss until noodles are coated with pesto, then serve in big warm bowls, topped with meatballs, additional toasted pine nuts and grated parmesan.  Sprinkle a dash of sea salt and pepper on top.

Nomnomnomnomnomnomnom.  I am shelving this recipe for the next time we have friends over for dinner.  It does NOT disappoint.  PS, everything’s ok in moderation…  right?  Well if that’s the case, then I’m going to pull a Julie Powell and make 1 recipe from my pasta board on Pinterest every week.  Who wants to come over for dinner??

Happy Weekend!!

2 Responses to “Pappardelle with Kale Pesto + Turkey Meatballs”

Leave a Reply