The Speckled Palate

February 20, 2015

Turkey Spinach Meatball Subs

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Satisfy a craving with this healthier Turkey Spinach Meatball Sub. Flavorful and swimming in marinara sauce, it’s hard not to love this simple, tasty sub.
Turkey Spinach Meatball Subs // @speckledpalate

During the last few months, I’ve become a news junkie.

This really shouldn’t be a surprise, especially since I am a journalism school graduate and went on to work at a newspaper full-time after graduation. In the time since I left my first journalism job, I’ve freelanced for various publications, covering a variety of different events.

The thing is… I loved working in the newsroom because I always had my finger on the pulse of where I lived. And ever since we moved to Dallas and my freelance work has changed significantly, I haven’t been able to follow the news through work quite as well.

Turkey Spinach Meatball Subs // @speckledpalate

My job in Baton Rouge introduced me to food photography, which I obviously adore, and I’ve been exploring that here. However, I don’t really do the newsy stuff anymore… and I miss it some days.

Sure, it’s traditionally doom and gloom, but there are bright spots, too. And I adore those bright spots.

And as one of my former co-workers always told me, I’m really good at capturing those bright spots, as opposed to covering death and destruction. (That’s not really my thing, in case you weren’t sure.)

Turkey Spinach Meatball Subs // @speckledpalate

So. I’m back to being a news junkie after taking a break from the news for far too long, and I enjoy it.

I love catching up with the evening news. I follow various local and national news outlets on Twitter. And when in my car, I’m listening to NPR.

And while I’m unsure of this shift in perspective, I’m fairly positive it has something to do with my nesting instinct and wanting to know as much as possible about my community and the world around us to prepare for our baby girl.

Or maybe it’s just me being neurotic as pregnancy winds down.

Turkey Spinach Meatball Subs // @speckledpalate

Whatever the case, these Turkey Spinach Meatball Subs are not neurotic.

They actually are derived from a pregnancy craving. (Is anyone really surprised at this point? I’m not.) I had a meatball sub at some point in July with a friend of mine, and I’ve been thinking about it off and on ever since.

The thing is? Meatball subs are delicious… but I won’t order one just anywhere. And since I still feel comfortable in my own kitchen, I did some tinkering one day.

Turkey Spinach Meatball Subs // @speckledpalate

The results were delicious, and Winston said these were his favorite meatballs to date.

Bonus points? These meatballs are healthier than the usual ones you’d come across in a restaurant, and they’re bursting with flavor. They also feature SPINACH! Which, as we all know, is something I love sneaking into dishes to get an additional serving of veggies. The marinara sauce is super simple. And the sandwiches are well worth the wait.

Here’s how I made ’em:

Turkey Spinach Meatball Subs
Yield: 12 sandwiches

Turkey Spinach Meatball Subs

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Satisfy a Meatball Sub craving with this healthier Turkey Spinach Meatball Sub. Flavorful and swimming in marinara sauce, it's hard not to love this simple and delicious sandwich.


Turkey Spinach Meatballs (makes 26 total)

  • 1 ¼ lbs. lean ground turkey
  • 12 oz. cut leaf spinach, cooked and drained well
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or 4 teaspoons fresh oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil or 1 teaspoon fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Marinara Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ¾ cups tomato puree
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or 4 teaspoons fresh oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil or 1 teaspoon fresh basil
  • ½teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 12 Ciabatta rolls
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese


Prepare the Meatballs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet -- line it with parchment paper, aluminum foil or a silpat mat. Spray with cooking spray, and set aside.
  2. In a large glass bowl, combine the ground turkey, cooked spinach, onion, garlic cloves, panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan, egg and spices using your hands.
  3. When the meatball mixture has come together and is well mixed, prepare the meatballs. Using a small cookie scoop, form the meatballs with your hands, then place carefully on the baking sheet. Repeat the process until all the mixture has been made into meatballs.
  4. Bake the meatballs for 30-40 minutes, or until browned on the outside and cooked through in the middle.

Prepare the Marinara Sauce

  1. While the meatballs are baking, heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic, cooking for 2-3 minutes, or until the vegetables have become translucent.
  3. Pour in the tomato puree and water, stirring until combined. Add the tomato paste and the spices, and bring to a boil.
  4. Once at a boil, lower heat to a simmer and partially cover, simmering until the meatballs have finished cooking.

Combine the meatballs and marinara

  1. When the meatballs have finished cooking, transfer them directly into the marinara sauce.
  2. Simmer the sauce and meatballs for an additional 30 minutes.

Prepare the sandwiches

  1. Toast the bread.
  2. Slice the bread in half, and place the fresh mozzarella down first on the bottom slice.
  3. Gently spoon meatballs and marinara sauce on top of the mozzarella, then top the sandwich with the other half of the bread.
  4. Enjoy warm!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 sandwich

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 437 Total Fat: 12g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 70mg Sodium: 936mg Carbohydrates: 57g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 9g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 26g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.
Turkey Spinach Meatball Subs // @speckledpalate

Are you a news junkie, too?

Satisfy a Meatball Sub craving with this healthier Turkey Spinach Meatball Sub. Flavorful and swimming in marinara sauce, it's hard not to love this simple and delicious sandwich.


  1. Savita @ ChefDeHome

    I’m also a news addict, but often when my work keeps me over busy, news get limited to just reading headlines….. these turkey meatballs look delicious, Erin! and yes, really vibrant capture, specially color of marinara making my mouth water!

    • Erin

      I do the headline thing, too, Savita. Sometimes, it’s just easier that way.

      Thank you! I’m glad you think these look delicious… they really taste wonderful, too!

  2. Justine | Cooking and Beer

    I’m a serious NPR junkie! I don’t think my better half loves it so much when I force him to listen to only that on long drives. 😉 These subs though, omg…they look soooooooooo good! Pinned!

    • Erin

      Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being an NPR junkie. (Says the fellow NPR junkie who is currently listening to an NPR podcast as she writes this…) And seriously. These subs are delicious. The spinach adds something different, and we were HUGE fans.

  3. Erica @ The Crumby Cupcake

    AHHHH YOU MADE THEM!!! I was wondering when I’d see that meatball sub you mentioned a few weeks ago that you were craving so much. Hooray for pregnant brain!!! <3 These look amazing, by the way. I don't think I can get Abe on board with turkey meatballs, but I bet they'll be just as delicious with beef. 🙂

    • Erin

      Ha! After that conversation, I was compelled and felt like I *had* to make them! Pregnancy brain, while sometimes frustrating, totally won here, and I’m glad it did.

      My sister made these with beef, and she said they were the best meatballs she’d ever had. So… the recipe works with beef, as well! If y’all make them, let me know what you think!

  4. Thalia @ butter and brioche

    You can never go wrong with a classic meatball sub.. these look divine and SO addictive!

    • Erin

      I totally agree, Thalia! Thanks so much!

  5. Julie @ Julie's Eats & Treats

    I’m a news junkie too! Can’t ever go wrong with anything meatball!

    • Erin

      Agreed! Meatballs are awesome… as is the news!

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