Mexican Turkey Meatballs with Pepitas, Rice & Spicy Cilantro Sauce

Mexican Turkey Meatballs

with Pepitas, Rice & Spicy Cilantro Sauce

45 MIN
2 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

For this vibrant dish, you'll season turkey meatballs with a classic blend of Mexican spices, then toss them into a saucy mix of fresh tomatoes, pepper, and onion to serve over a bed of hearty brown rice. It's all topped with crunchy toasted pepitas and a drizzle of herbaceous cilantro sauce spiced with pickled jalapeño.
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  • Nutrition
    PER SERVING
  • Calories
    720 Cals (est.)
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fresh
ingredients
Mexican Turkey Meatballs with Pepitas, Rice & Spicy Cilantro Sauce
Title
  • 10 oz Ground Turkey
  • ½ cup Brown Rice
  • 4 oz Grape Tomatoes
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tbsps Grated Cotija Cheese
  • ¼ cup Cilantro Sauce
  • ¼ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1 oz Sliced Pickled Jalapeño Pepper
  • 2 Tbsps Raw Pepitas
  • 1 Tbsp Mexican Spice Blend (Ancho Chile Powder, Smoked Paprika, Garlic Powder, Ground Cumin & Dried Mexican Oregano)
  • 1 Red, Yellow, Or Orange Bell Pepper
time-saving
tips & techniques
Prepare the ingredients & make the sauce
1 Prepare the ingredients & make the sauce

Fill a medium pot 3/4 of the way up with salted water; cover and heat to boiling on high. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Halve, peel, and medium dice the onion. Cut off and discard the stem of the bell pepper. Halve lengthwise; remove the ribs and seeds, then medium dice. Peel and roughly chop 2 cloves of garlic. Halve the tomatoes. Roughly chop the jalapeño pepper. Thoroughly wash your hands immediately after handling. In a bowl, combine the cilantro sauce and as much of the chopped jalapeño pepper as you'd like, depending on how spicy you'd like the dish to be. 

Cook the rice
2 Cook the rice

Add the rice to the pot of boiling water and cook, uncovered, 17 to 19 minutes, or until tender. Turn off the heat. Drain thoroughly.

Toast the pepitas
3 Toast the pepitas

Meanwhile, in a medium pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the pepitas; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 3 minutes, or until toasted (be careful, as the pepitas may pop as they toast). Transfer to a plate and immediately season with salt. Wipe out the pan.

Form & cook the meatballs
4 Form & cook the meatballs

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, and spice blend. Season with salt and pepper. Gently mix to combine. Shape the mixture into 10 tightly packed meatballs. In the same pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the meatballs in an even layer. Loosely cover the pan with foil and cook, without stirring, 6 to 7 minutes, or until browned. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes, or until browned on all sides and cooked through.* Leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan, transfer to a plate. Cover with the foil to keep warm.

*An instant-read thermometer should register 165°F.

Finish & serve your dish
5 Finish & serve your dish

In the pan of reserved fond, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the diced onion, diced bell pepper, and chopped garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened. Add the halved tomatoes and 1/2 cup of water (carefully, as the liquid may splatter); season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally and pressing the tomatoes with the back of a spoon, 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomatoes are broken down and the sauce is slightly thickened. Add the cooked meatballs. Cook, constantly spooning the sauce over the meatballs, 1 to 2 minutes, or until coated. Serve the cooked rice topped with the finished meatballs, vegetables, and sauce. Garnish with the spicy cilantro sauce, cheese, and toasted pepitas. Enjoy! 

Tips from Home Chefs

Prepare the ingredients & make the sauce
1 Prepare the ingredients & make the sauce

Fill a medium pot 3/4 of the way up with salted water; cover and heat to boiling on high. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Halve, peel, and medium dice the onion. Cut off and discard the stem of the bell pepper. Halve lengthwise; remove the ribs and seeds, then medium dice. Peel and roughly chop 2 cloves of garlic. Halve the tomatoes. Roughly chop the jalapeño pepper. Thoroughly wash your hands immediately after handling. In a bowl, combine the cilantro sauce and as much of the chopped jalapeño pepper as you'd like, depending on how spicy you'd like the dish to be. 

2 Cook the rice

Add the rice to the pot of boiling water and cook, uncovered, 17 to 19 minutes, or until tender. Turn off the heat. Drain thoroughly.

Cook the rice
Toast the pepitas
3 Toast the pepitas

Meanwhile, in a medium pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the pepitas; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 3 minutes, or until toasted (be careful, as the pepitas may pop as they toast). Transfer to a plate and immediately season with salt. Wipe out the pan.

4 Form & cook the meatballs

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, and spice blend. Season with salt and pepper. Gently mix to combine. Shape the mixture into 10 tightly packed meatballs. In the same pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the meatballs in an even layer. Loosely cover the pan with foil and cook, without stirring, 6 to 7 minutes, or until browned. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes, or until browned on all sides and cooked through.* Leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan, transfer to a plate. Cover with the foil to keep warm.

*An instant-read thermometer should register 165°F.

Form & cook the meatballs
Finish & serve your dish
5 Finish & serve your dish

In the pan of reserved fond, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the diced onion, diced bell pepper, and chopped garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened. Add the halved tomatoes and 1/2 cup of water (carefully, as the liquid may splatter); season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally and pressing the tomatoes with the back of a spoon, 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomatoes are broken down and the sauce is slightly thickened. Add the cooked meatballs. Cook, constantly spooning the sauce over the meatballs, 1 to 2 minutes, or until coated. Serve the cooked rice topped with the finished meatballs, vegetables, and sauce. Garnish with the spicy cilantro sauce, cheese, and toasted pepitas. Enjoy! 

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