My mother recently popped in for a short visit and while she was visiting she offered to make dinner one night. She had a few standard comfort dishes when I was growing up, and one of them was Swedish Meatballs based on a Betty Crocker recipe, probably from the early 50’s. It had been years since I’d eaten them, and last week I felt a yearning for comfort food. Her offer reminded me of the foods I ate when I was young; so, I suggested she make Swedish Turkey Meatballs, with a couple of other changes too —to make them more healthy.
The original recipe called for pork and beef for the meatballs, and sour cream for the gravy. For a healthier version, we changed the recipe by replacing the pork and beef with turkey, and using non-fat milk instead of the sour cream for the gravy. This dish can also be made dairy-free by substituting soy milk for the low-fat milk. I also suggested to Mom that we add a tablespoon of capers to the sauce because the pickled flavor would make a nice contrast with the gravy and turkey. And, according to Dr. Audrey Kunin, expert dermatologist on the Dr. Oz show, capers fight inflammation and support the immune system against free radicals and allergies, thanks to the quercetin flavonoid found in the caper. Capers are great for an anti-inflammation diet!
And a funny thing happened when Mom was rolling the meatballs. I noticed that she was making them a lot bigger than how I remembered them as a child, or from those that you see at potluck parties. When I asked her why she was making them so large she said, “This way you don’t have to make as many.”Huh, I thought. She’s getting smarter as she ages.
Mom loved the changes to the recipe. She says that now, she’ll always make the Swedish Meatballs with turkey; but, she prefers the capers on the side.
Prep Time: 35 minutes:
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 to 7
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/3 cup minced onion
1-1/4 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, or gluten-free breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon tamari soy
For the gravy:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons unbleached flour, whole wheat pastry flour, or gluten-free flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon capers
2 cups non-fat milk
1) In a 13-inch skillet, sauté the onion in 2 teaspoons of olive oil. When the onion is transparent take if off the heat and cool for a minute.
2) Mix together well the sautéed onion, the turkey, bread crumbs, parsley, salt, pepper, egg, and the tamari.
3) Heat ¼ cup of olive oil in the 13-inch inch skillet, and brown the turkey meatballs in the oil over medium-high heat. You should be able to fit all of them in the skillet; if not, you’ll have to brown them in two batches. Be careful not to burn them as you’ll leave the pan sediments for the gravy.
4) When the turkey meatballs have all been browned, place them on a platter off to the side.
5) Add the 3 tablespoons of flour to the oil in the pan along with the salt, nutmeg and the pepper. Use a whisk to incorporate the flour with the oil and the meatball sediments. Whisk the flour and oil for 2 to 3 minutes and then add the milk. Continue to stir for another 2-3 minutes and then add the meatballs back to the pan and cook for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the meatballs from sticking.
6) Check the seasonings and the capers to the gravy.
Serving Suggestion: Serve with quinoa pilaf (without the pomegrate) or with boiled whole wheat fettucini noodles.