Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Pesto Pasta

It’s no secret that I absolutely love pesto sauce. My Nana Lulu definitely made me that way because she used it a lot in her dishes. I’ve made several versions here on the blog because it’s so versatile. Anything from the market can become a yummy pesto sauce actually. So this week when I was trying to figure out what to do with my fresh zucchini, I made pesto with it! I paired it with juicy, flavorful turkey meatballs and tender pasta for a complete, lean and nutritious pasta dinner. Best of all, it was really simple to make.

First, I worked on the meatballs. Instead of breadcrumbs, I made a classic panada. I soaked a bunch of cubed, day old bread in milk so that the bread just absorbed it. When I added it to the rest of the mixture, it kept the turkey meatballs from drying out.
I wanted to keep this dish really lean, so I decided to bake the turkey meatballs. It seemed like the better option than frying them in oil. They baked for about 20 minutes to cook through and get a crust on the outside.
Once I put the meatballs in the oven, it was time to turn my attention to the pesto. I roasted the zucchini in lots of olive oil and seasoning to bring out its flavor. That way the pesto sauce already had an incredible flavor base right from the start.
After that, my food processor did all of the work for me. Lots of basil, pine nuts, parmesan, seasoning and olive oil really enhanced the zucchini and made an incredible sauce.
I also boiled a pound of my favorite quinoa fusilli. Once I drained it, I transferred it back into the pot with the pesto sauce and baked turkey meatballs. Then I just tossed it all together really well and dinner was ready!

Oh my goodness, my nana would have loved this take on meatballs with pesto. The meatballs were incredibly juicy and flavorful because of the panada. That pesto sauce was the star though. The roasted zucchini gave it such fantastic depth of flavor and texture. Hope you all enjoy this amazing, seasonal recipe as much as we did here at home! xoxo

Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Pesto Pasta
Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Pesto Pasta
5 from 3 votes
Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Pesto Pasta
Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Pesto Pasta
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr

Lean turkey meatballs go so well with a summer fresh zucchini pesto sauce and tender pasta! It's amazing for an easy, seasonal meal.

Course: Main Course
Keyword: Turkey Meatballs, Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Pesto Pasta, Zucchini Pesto
Servings: 6
Calories: 611 kcal
Author: Jeanie and Lulu's Kitchen
  • 1 cup day old Italian or ciabatta bread cubed small
  • milk as needed
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3 whole basil leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1 pinch freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 whole large zucchini diced
  • 1 big drizzle olive oil
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 pinch freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1 pinch freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound fusilli pasta
  1. First, make the meatballs. Pre-heat the oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with foil, a silicone mat or parchment paper. If foil, lightly spray it with cooking spray. Take the bread and put it in a bowl. Pour enough milk into the bowl with it to submerge it. Let the bread sit and soak up the milk for 10-15 minutes. Then combine it in a bowl with the ground turkey, egg, basil, parsley, garlic powder, seasoned salt, dried onion and cracked black pepper. Bring it together into a uniform mixture with clean hands, then form them into firm meatballs the size of your palm. Lay them out on the sheet tray and bake them for 20-25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, get a large pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta. Salt it generously. Then start on the sauce. Transfer the chopped zucchini to a baking dish and drizzle with it lots of olive oil. Also sprinkle it generously with salt and pepper, then roast it in the hot oven with the meatballs for 10 minutes. Take it out and let it cool for a couple of minutes, and set up a food processor. Pour the zucchini, pine nuts, basil, garlic, parmesan, salt, dried onion, black pepper and olive oil in the bowl of the processor and run it until you have a smooth, gorgeous pesto sauce. Set it aside.
  3. Boil the pasta according to the directions, usually for about 8 minutes. When it is done, reserve 2 tablespoons of the starchy cooking water before you drain it. Then pour the pasta back into the pot with the pesto sauce and reserved water. The meatballs should also be done at this point, so toss them in the pot as well. Mix it all together thoroughly, then serve it immediately in pretty pasta bowls!
Nutrition Facts
Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Pesto Pasta
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 611 Calories from Fat 191
% Daily Value*
Fat 21.2g33%
Saturated Fat 3.7g23%
Cholesterol 75mg25%
Sodium 480mg21%
Potassium 702mg20%
Carbohydrates 70.7g24%
Fiber 4.5g19%
Sugar 5.5g6%
Protein 34g68%
Calcium 80mg8%
Iron 5.6mg31%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Pesto Pasta
Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Pesto Pasta

14 thoughts on “Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Pesto Pasta”

  1. 5 stars
    this was delicious, and a great way to sneak some veggies into a picky child’s dish

  2. 5 stars
    This is a great way to use zucchini! We love meatballs. Our grocery often has great sales on lean ground turkey, so we use it a lot.

  3. This whole dish sounds so delicious! I really love turkey meatballs better than the normal.

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