Mama-Approved Spaghetti and Meatballs

Updated April 07, 2016


Now Eat This!

Published by Ballantine Books

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Editor's Note: Spaghetti and meatballs is one of those classic dinner ideas you make again and again. These Mama-Approved Spaghetti and Meatballs uses a low-fat marinara sauce and lean turkey, among other low-fat ingredients such as eggplant, to create homemade meatballs that are much healthier than a traditional meatball recipe! The meatballs are tender and bursting with flavor but with a fraction of the calories and fat. Whole-wheat spaghetti is the final component to this low-calorie pasta recipe. Adults can indulge guilt-free in this waistline-friendly dinner and kids will never know the difference.
Considering that this dish is the Holy Grail of Mama’s cooking, I truly debated whether or not to mess with it. It took six attempts to make over this dish, but I finally figured the low-cal version out--and Mama loved it!




Total Timeunder 1 hour

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe CourseMain Course

Dietary ConsiderationHealthy, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free



Taste and TextureHerby, Meaty, Savory

Type of DishDry Pasta, Pasta


  • 1 small eggplant
  • 2 cups Rocco’s How Low Can You Go Low-Fat Marinara Sauce or store-bought low-fat marinara sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ small yellow onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 large egg white
  • 12 ounces lean ground turkey breast
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti


Place the eggplant on the grate of a gas burner over a high flame. Char the eggplant, turning it every few minutes, until the skin is blackened and the flesh is cooked through; this should take about 12 minutes. (Alternatively, you can char the eggplant on a barbecue grill, on a grill pan, or on a baking sheet under the broiler of a gas or electric oven.) Allow the eggplant to cool slightly, and then cut it in half. Scrape out the flesh, being careful not to incorporate the blackened skin. Measure out ¼ cup of the flesh; reserve the remaining eggplant for another use.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pot, heat the marinara sauce over medium heat.

In a blender, combine the chicken broth, onions, garlic, cooked eggplant, and egg white. Puree until the mixture is smooth. In a large bowl, combine the pureed mixture with the ground turkey, parsley, and 2 tablespoons of the cheese. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide the meat mixture into 8 equal portions, a little over 2 ounces each.

When the marinara sauce comes to a simmer, roll each portion of the meatball mixture with the palms of your hands to form a ball, and gently drop the meatballs, one by one, into the hot marinara sauce. Shake the pan gently to coat the meatballs with sauce. Cover the pan, and when the sauce begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low. Simmer the meatballs for 12 minutes. Gently turn each meatball over in the marinara sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the package directions, about 10 minutes; drain.

Divide the spaghetti among 4 plates, and top each plate of pasta with 2 meatballs and some sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 4 tablespoons cheese on top, and serve.



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I have been making the full fat version of Mama's Meatballs for YEARS. they are perfect in every way. Most everything is the same as the posted recipe, except, the meat is the pork, veal, beef combo and you use a whole egg...

Where is the nutritional information?


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