Many of you may know that before launching The Craveable Kitchen I was sharing recipes on the website for my personal chef and catering business, Guest Chef. For nearly a year, my recipe writing was focused entirely on complete meals. After all, single recipes are nice, but what happens after you choose that one recipe? Well, you need to find more recipes to make a complete dinner! Aye, aye, aye. I decided I wanted to help with that time consuming dilemma, especially since as a personal chef I am always cooking full, balanced meals for my clients. It only makes sense that I would share those complete meals with my readers, too!
Now that I’ve decided to create this spin-off blog, I still want those meals to live on, which is why I will sprinkle them into posts here, too. What better time than the holiday season to share my Turkey, Apple and Cranberry Meatballs with Sweet Potato Puree and Kale Quinoa? For one, it screams of fall flavors. For two, it is relatively healthy, which is a refreshing change from all the un-healthy celebratory food we will be eating for the next month.
One thing I make a point to do when I offer a complete meal like this is choreograph all the different steps for you so you don’t really have to think as much. I don’t know about you, but I like anytime I don’t have to think as much. While it may seem most logical to start with the meatballs, I actually start with the sides. First, get the sweet potatoes in the microwave. Yes, the microwave! We are just going to steam them until they are soft enough to scoop out and puree in a food processor. Cut them in half, set them in a glass baking dish, add a little water, cover with plastic wrap, leaving just a corner vented, then microwave for 5-8 minutes until very tender.
While the sweet potatoes steam, get the quinoa on to boil. Cooking quinoa is just like cooking rice, although my one tip is to slightly under-measure the liquid. What I mean is if you are making one cup of quinoa, you need double, or two cups of liquid. As you measure those two cups, do so a little less than the full amount. I think the word for that would be scantily?? A scant measure? I’m not sure, but hopefully you get the idea. So often quinoa becomes mushy, which is the result of overcooking it with too much water. This little trick ensures your grains are cooked through but still light and loose, not mushy or gloppy.
Set the pot of water and quinoa over high heat and bring to a boil. Just like rice, once boiling cover the pot, lower heat to a low simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender. With quinoa, the little germ or curly-q will appear.
Now that our potatoes are steaming and our quinoa is on the stove, we can get to those meatballs. Another tip, when I make meatballs, I really enjoy using the paddle attachment on my upright mixer to combine all the ingredients. Not to worry – your hands will do the job just fine. Either way you choose, add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl and fold or stir until well combined. For these special meatballs, we’ve got diced apples and dried cranberries, fresh sage, mustard powder, garlic and onion powder, plus the standard egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Sounds Yum, riiight??!
To shape the meatballs, I divide the mixture in half, then aim to get six balls from each half for a total of 12. Meatballs can be set on a lightly greased sheet pan. Transfer to a 400° oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until they are cooked all the way through. If you like to use meat thermometers, the temperature should reach 165°.
The reason I start with the sweet potatoes and quinoa, is so we can use the 20-25 minutes the meatballs are cooking to finish the side dishes. Now that the sweet potatoes are soft, scoop the flesh into the food processor. Puree until smooth with some Greek yogurt, a splash of apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
To finish the quinoa, remove kale leaves from the stems and slice thinly or chop finely. Place in a large bowl along with the almonds. The almonds can be toasted in a small sauté pan over medium heat or added raw if you feel like skipping a step. Truthfully, I skip the toasting step quite often. Once the quinoa is done cooking, let it cool on a plate for a few minutes so it doesn’t make the other components soggy. This also allows the steam to escape, another good step to avoiding gloppy quinoa. Toss it all together with some oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Crumbled goat cheese optional, but highly recommended!
A well choreographed cooking experience means your two side dishes should be done just about the time you are taking the meatballs out of the oven. If your sides are done sooner, use the extra time to clean. If your meatballs finish first, they will retain heat long enough for you to finish up. Then, just scoop and serve!
Another thing I like to consider when writing complete meals are the leftovers, and this entire meal reheats really well. In fact, while you’re at it, consider making extra. For more full meal inspiration, follow along on my Meals page which will continue to grow as I share more content with you.
Speaking of following along, did you know you can stay up to date anytime new recipes or meals are posted? Just sign up for our newsletter by adding your email below. We’d love to stay connected!
Favorite fall flavors make a tasty meatball dinner!
For the Sweet Potatoes:
1 pound sweet potatoes
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon apple cider vineger
Salt and Pepper, to taste
For the Kale Quinoa
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water (scant measure)
2 1/2 cups kale – stems removed, leaves thinly sliced
3 tablespoons white balsamic or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sliced or crushed almonds
3 ounces goat cheese, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Meatballs:
1 1/4 pound ground turkey thigh or breast meat (or 50/50 combo)
1 cup green apple, diced small
1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
1 egg, large
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, plain
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Start by steaming the sweet potatoes. Cut them in half lengthwise and place in a microwave-safe dish, like a glass casserole dish. Add about 1/4 inch of water to the dish, then cover with plastic wrap. Fold back one corner to allow steam to escape. Microwave on high for 5-8 minutes until very tender. Should pierce very easily with a fork. Once steamed, allow to cool slightly.
Next, measure water and quinoa into a medium sauce pan and set over high heat. Once water is boiling, cover with a tight-fitting lid and lower heat. Simmer for 15-18 minutes until water is absorbed and grain is tender.
Now, start on the meatballs. Prep the apples, dried cranberries and fresh sage and place in a mixing bowl with the remaining meatball ingredients. If you have an upright mixer with a paddle attachment, use the mixer to combine all ingredients. Or, just use your hands.
Once well combined, portion mixture into 12 equally sized meatballs (about 2 ounces or 3 tablespoons each). Set on a lightly oiled sheet pan. Meatballs can be close, but not touching. Place in the preheated oven and bake 20-25 minutes until cooked through.
Place almonds in a small saute pan and set over low heat to toast. Shake pan often to prevent burning. Once almonds are golden brown and fragrant transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Once potatoes are cool enough to touch scoop flesh out of the skin and place in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add Greek yogurt and apple cider vinegar. Puree until smooth. If too thick, add more yogurt. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Once quinoa is cooked, transfer to a plate and spread out in a thin layer to cool faster and stop the cooking process.
Remove stems from kale and shred leaves with hands or slice thinly with a knife. Add to bowl with the almonds. Drizzle with vinegar and olive oil, season with salt and pepper then toss in the cooled quinoa. Stir just to combine. Crumble in goat cheese and gently toss once more.
Place a few meatballs on dinner plates along with scoops of sweet potato puree and quiona with kale. Serve and enjoy!
To get dinner on the table faster, prep items ahead of time. The meatballs can be mixed, shaped, covered and refrigerated 1-2 days in advance. The sweet potatoes can be pureed ahead of time, then reheated in the microwave, while the kale quinoa can be served cold or room temperature.