Genesis Healthy Heart Kitchen: Saucy Slow Cooker Meatball Sandwich

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MOLINE, Illinois - On Friday, August 5, 2016, Genesis Health System Chief Marketing Officer Ken Croken made a healthy meatball sandwich out of turkey meat. To see the recipe, see the instructions below.


For the Meatballs

1 pound ground turkey

1 link uncooked spicy Italian turkey sausage, about 1/4 to 1/3 pound

1/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (preferably whole wheat)

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce

40ish ounces crushed or diced tomatoes (canned will do, fresh is better)

2 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Big pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 rounded teaspoon Splenda or other sugar substitute or honey


  1. For the meatballs, start by splitting the sausage casing down the center using a sharp knife. Turn the sausage meat out of the casing and into a medium bowl. Add the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, egg, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper to the bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until evenly combined, being sure the sausage meat is distributed throughout.
  2. Scoop up about 1 1/2 tablespoons of meat (ice cream scoopers help) and roll it between your hands to form little globes that are the size of a small golf ball. Continue until you've rolled all the meat into balls. You should have approximately 20 meatballs. Set aside while you make the sauce.
  3. For the sauce, pour the tomatoes into your slow cooker. Add the smashed garlic, parsley, basil, red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt, and sugar. Stir well.
  4. Add the meatballs to the sauce, one-by-one, gently nestling them into the tomatoes so they are almost entirely covered with sauce.
  5. Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 4 hours.
  6. Serve on crusty bread (or in shallow bowls over pasta).
Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.