Turkey Meatballs with Broccoli-Carrot Mash

As an MDA Worker Bee always on the lookout for new Primal dishes I’ve developed a few tricks. My favorite method is by scanning different restaurant menus and then finding substitutes for highly-processed or high-carb ingredients, and through a system of trial-and-error, creating a new Grok-inspired treat.

Last week I wandered around Brooklyn’s Smith Street to see what I could do about the strange wintry-food yen I was experiencing (how could I crave hot stew in 90 degree weather?). I discovered it was not so strange – there are plenty of people enjoying winter eats even in the crux of July. Beef stew, macaroni and cheese, pork shoulder are all top menu items even while city temperatures skyrocket. When I asked a staff member at one of the restaurants why these items stayed so popular, even during months when people would seem to want lighter fare, he replied these meals were “the most satisfying.” Good taste, I suppose, knows no weather.

High-carb potato-themed side dishes were ubiquitous menu items so I decided to take a stab at a Primal version of mashed potatoes. With visions of delicious turkey meatballs dancing in my head (another cold weather favorite I’d been craving, adopted from my Mom’s recipe), I set to work composing the perfect Primal mashed-potato substitute to go with them for dinner the next night. I went with the old standby – the beautiful flower-like cruciferous plant and our beloved friend – broccoli.

Arriving at a fresh green bouquet of broc at my local farmers’ market, I bagged three heads, along with some raw carrots and white onion. Because of broccoli’s crunchy texture and stem, it seems daunting to imagine it mashed. But just because broccoli looks tough doesn’t mean it won’t play around. After separating florets from their stems, I boiled them for 4-5 minutes until they were softer, and added them to the food processor with the cooked carrots, onions, and a little salt, until the broc- mix started looking mashed. I then transferred the mixture from the pulverizer (taking a few tastes) to a medium bowl, where I added butter (and took a few tastes more). The recipe really came together then. So much better than I expected. So simple. Fresh sage or basil might be a wonderful addition, too.

I’ll admit, it isn’t as creamy as the mashed potatoes of yore, but this recipe is a successful Primal adaptation. It meets all the criteria– texture, consistency, and a lack of extremely starchy vegetables.

As for the turkey meatballs, they are not only a strong source of protein and an irresistible food to snack on, but paired with the mash they round out a delicious Primal entree.

Turkey Meatballs

1 lb. ground organic turkey meat
1 small onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium bowl, mix together onion, garlic, egg, and ketchup. Add turkey meat and mash mixture with hands. When well-mixed, form 1-inch diameter meatballs and set aside on a cookie or baking sheet. Wash hands thoroughly before moving on.

Over a medium-heat skillet, heat oil. Transfer meatballs to skillet and cook until brown on all sides. When cooked, drain excess oil, transfer to plate, and serve.

Broccoli-Carrot Mash

1 lb. carrots, cooked well, skinned, and diced small
3 broccoli heads, cooked and stems removed
4 tablespoons fresh organic butter, room temperature
½ small white onion (optional)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)

In medium-large pot, bring 4 cups water to roaring boil. When water is boiling, add skinned carrots and cook until quite soft, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Add chopped carrots to the food processor, one piece at a time, until well-blended. Trim broccoli florets so that stems have been completely separated from tops. Toss florets into food processor with onion and pulverize until well mixed.

When carrots, broccoli and onion look well-blended, transfer to a medium bowl and add 4 thick pats of butter (more, or less, as you prefer) and give the mixture a nice blend using a spatula or metal spoon. The butter should melt.

Serve a nice heaping spoonful along with meatballs.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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19 thoughts on “Turkey Meatballs with Broccoli-Carrot Mash”

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  1. Thanks for the recipe.

    Nutritional facts/breakdown would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Nice recipe. Look forward to trying this soon.

    One of my favorites is meatloaf made with ground buffalo and “smashed” cauliflower. I boil the cauliflower in chicken broth until tender then smash with a potato masher and add and mix grated raw milk goat cheese. Nice sub for mashed potatoes

  3. Mashed non-starch vegetables are a great alternative to mashed potatoes.

    Please keep the simple, seasonal recipes coming! In October, I’m probably not going to remember that pork and apples dish posted earlier in the spring. I will remember this recipe when I get around to using broccoli later in the week.

  4. Awesome. Love the idea of mashing broccoli instead of cauliflower. I think this is a dish my husband, a grain-eater, would like. I think I’d add a little feta or raw cheddar to the mix though. It’s a safe 20%. 😉

  5. I much prefer turkey meatballs over any other meat. They are much more tasty and when you combine with such things as broccoli and carrots its even better. Thanks for sharing this, can’t wait to try it myself.

  6. @Songi – I am going to have to disagree that this is not a seasonal dish. In my CSA this week I had a beautiful head of broccoli and the last of the over wintered carrots along with spring onions.

    I feel like we should be able to use our Google-fu to find these great receipes again.

  7. Thanks! There are so many great tasting things you can do with veggies once you start thinking outside the box! Califlower and broccoli are my new go-to veggie these days!

  8. I just made this recipe. I like spicy food, so I would add some spice to the meatballs, but the broccoli and carrot mash tasted great, even better than expected. Thanks for posting

  9. This was great, the bf loved them… a few things I’ll do differently next time: saute the onion & garlic prior to mixing with the turkey.
    Also, read the recipe closer and don’t add the 3tbl of olive oil to the meat… it’s meant for frying! oops!

  10. I wanted to make this today for lunch, unfortunately my grocer didn’t sell ground turkey nor did I have a food processor. I ended up making a “Turkey Meatball Mash” instead and just ate a heaping of broccoli and carrots. Still delicious, even if a little improvised! 😀

    Thanks Mark!

  11. Some cultures and people do not consume meat or animal food products for cultural, dietary, health, ethical, or ideological reasons. Vegetarians do not consume meat. Vegans do not consume any foods that are or contain ingredients from an animal source. Thanks.

  12. Any sprouts yet? It’s been a few days and my lectute and spinach are going crazy. Also a few of my dill seeds sprouted over night. And my cukes and zucchini are all out. I figure you must have a nice row of lectute and spinach shoots too.

  13. Although ancient cooks may have set vessels on open fires, frequent breakage taught them that earthenware responded best to gradual rises and declines in temperature, and distance from direct flame. Thanks.

  14. just a tip – If you put a little oil on your hands before you roll the meatballs, the minced meat won’t stick to your hands. 🙂