Have I told you how much my son LOVES meatballs? He's obsessed. If you ask him what he wants for dinner, 9 times out of 10 he will say meatballs. Unless it is Tuesday, then it is "Taco Tuesday" (thank you Lego movie!).
His favorite meatballs are Italian turkey meatballs with spaghetti sauce. They are pretty unbelievable, but I'm not really into eating the same thing every week. To mix it up a little bit, but still keep him happy, I started searching around for other meatball recipes. I came across Swedish meatballs, Asian meatballs, BBQ meatballs, and then Hawaiian meatballs. Once I came across those, I couldn't get them out of my head. I honestly had a dream about them. Creepy/weird/lame, I know.
So I made them the next day. The original recipe I came across used frozen meatballs from the supermarket. Sometimes we need quick and easy, but I prefer to make everything from scratch if possible. I set out to create my own meatball recipe that would compliment the flavors of the sweet and sour pineapple sauce.
Oh man did I hit a home run. My husband went nuts over the meatballs. I added green onion, garlic, fresh ginger, tamari, and sesame oil to flavor the ground turkey, and an egg and crushed Rice Chex to bind the meatballs together. They went perfectly with the Hawaiian sauce. Add in a few bell peppers and pineapple chunks, serve over hot cooked rice, and you have a completely delicious meal that your family will love.
Hawaiian Meatballs (gluten-free)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 tbsp. soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs (or crushed Rice Chex for gluten-free)
1 large egg
1.25 lb. ground turkey (93% lean)
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 (8 oz.) cans pineapple chunks in juice
1 tbsp. soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup cold water
2 tbsp. cornstarch
Hot cooked rice for serving
Thinly sliced green onions for garnish
To prepare the meatballs, preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients for the meatballs together until well blended. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Form into meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheets. (I used a small ice cream scoop for this.) Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.
While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the sauce. In a glass measuring cup, whisk the vinegar, brown sugar, pineapple juice from both cans, and soy sauce together.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the bell pepper. Cook until softened, but still slightly crisp. Stir in the sauce.
In a small bowl, whisk the water and cornstarch together. Once the sauce begins to boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture. Once the sauce has thickened, add the meatballs and pineapple chunks to the skillet. Toss to coat.
Serve over hot cooked rice and garnish with green onions.