I have been a meat eater my entire life and never considered being vegan or vegetarian …until now.
My dilemma is that I am and have been for some time - seriously turned off by the unbelievably inhumane way most of our animal food sources are being treated as well as the ripple affect mass production has on the environment/quality of protein.
I believe that eating meat is good for me (personally - though don’t think it is for everyone), but I passionately disagree with they type of meat that is offered at the average grocery store. So what am I (or we) supposed to do?
The answer I derived for myself is pretty simple, and not terribly new or unique, but something I think few of us actually practice. Eat locally and in moderation. So simple, yet it doesn’t feel terribly easy to maintain. If we all cut out animal proteins except when we could get them from small local farms who treat their animals with respect, feed them what they are naturally supposed to eat and (although death is never ever completely peaceful) kill them as humanely as possible; we would be eating meat a lot less frequently. As a result, the insane demand for mass production would dramatically reduce. I know this probably feels either overly simple or crazy to some of you, and there are a lot of other factors involved, but it is something we all could do to set a prescience and make a big difference. Also, there are a great deal of vegetarian/vegan recipes that give you healthy protein, fat and carbs to sustain life. We just have to start committing to those choices.
Maybe it sounds weird that I am talking about this while presenting you with a recipe for turkey meatballs, but I didn't want to share this without explaining how I really feel about it. I am fortunate enough to have a local store that sources (sparing amounts) of meat from local farms, and loads of incredible - seasonal & local vegetables. That’s where I got my turkey meat from for this recipe. Anyway, no judgement - lord knows I spent many years of my life eating whatever I wanted, everyone has their own reasons for making the choices they make, I just wanted to share mine.
On a much lighter note, this recipe uses a delicious spice mix that originated in the Middle East called Besar - jam packed with flavor to add a twist to your regular ole meatballs! Plus, I sat them on a white bean sauce with simply dressed watercress to really let all the flavors shine. Hope you enjoy.
2 tablespoons *Besar Spice Mix (recipe below)
1 lb free range organic ground turkey
1 large egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (if gf, toast a slice of your fav. gf bread and grind in a mini-chop)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
1 teaspoon large grain sea salt
Cannellini Cream Sauce + Watercress Salad
2 cups cannellini beans
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame butter)
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
sea salt to taste
4 cups watercress, washed and dried
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, add all meatball ingredients (besar spice mix through salt). Use your hands to incorporate all the ingredients.
Roll the turkey mixture into balls (I use a tablespoon to help me scoop even amounts of turkey for each meatball) and place on a parchment line baking sheet 1-2" apart.
Bake for 12 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and have reached 165 degrees.
While the meatballs cook, make the bean sauce. In your food processor, add beans, tahini, garlic, lemon, cumin, coriander and salt. Blend until completely smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Spoon into a bowl and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, toss watercress, pine nuts and olive oil.
To assemble, spoon bean sauce on each plate, top with turkey meatballs and then a handful of the watercress salad.
*BESAR spice mix: 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ancho chili pepper, 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon large grain sea salt
Toast whole spices in in a dry skillet over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes, continuously shaking the seeds around the pan so they do not burn. Remove and grind in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Add remaining spices, stir to combine.