Cranberry Pesto Meatballs with Butternut Squash Mash

Cranberry Pesto Meatballs with Butternut Squash Mash | Plaid and Paleo

I’m recovering from a whirlwind trip to Austin, Texas. Just a little fyi a 14-hour round trip car ride isn’t the best idea for a weekend trip. While I am not the best flyer, I would take a plane over a long car ride any day. Good thing Austin was amazing! The food in Austin is so delicious. I only missed SXSW by a couple weeks, which is a huge bummer. I really want to come back for PaleoFX in April! Anyone else planning on making the trip??

I shared this recipe last week over on the Paleo Parents, but in case you missed it here it is! When I first started eating Paleo, I would make huge portions of one meal and eat it for five days straight. This got old quick, but I wasn’t sure how to change my habit. Between working long hours and attempting to squeeze in working out, I didn’t feel I had time to cook something new every night. Finally I reached a tipping point after eating meatballs for lunch and dinner a week straight. On day six, I decided to whip up a zucchini “hoagie” and have myself a meatball sub. I’m not sure what took me so long to realize leftovers don’t have to be boring. 

I love this recipe because it stems from this same notion. You are cooking two dinners in one setting. While both contain the same ingredients, they are still very different. You can cook the meatballs one night and store the leftover turkey for burgers the next night. If you want to get all the cooking out of the way, you can easily cook the burgers at the same time as the meatballs and reheat them the next night. This recipe serves two but can be easily doubled for a larger household!

Cranberry Pesto Meatballs with Butternut Squash Mash | Plaid and Paleo
Paleo Cranberry Pesto Meatballs with Butternut Squash Mash


    Cranberry Pesto
  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 date, seeded
  • 2 cups fresh basil, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Meatballs/ burgers
  • 1 lb ground turkey thighs
  • 1/2 cup cranberry pesto
  • 2 tbls coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • Mash
  • 3 lb butternut squash, cut lengthwise
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbls coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Second night meal
  • 2 strips bacon


  1. Turn oven to 400 degrees. Roast squash with flesh side down for 45 minutes. 
  2. For the pesto:
  3. In a small sauce pot, simmer cranberries in 3/4 cup water until all berries have popped.
  4. Add in date and continue to cook until sauce reduces to jelly-like consistency.
  5. In a blender, mix all pesto ingredients including jellied cranberries until smooth.
  6. For the meatballs:
  7. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except ghee. Mix well with your hands.
  8. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow the coconut flour to be absorbed.
  9. Over medium heat, melt ghee in a large flat-bottom skillet.
  10. Roll mixture into 10 1-inch meatballs.
  11. Cook covered for 4 minutes, flip and cook for another 4 minutes.
  12. Continue to cook until all sides of the meatballs are browned.
  13. For the mash:
  14. Once the squash is done cooking, carefully remove the skin with a knife and cut into large chunks.
  15. In a food processor or blender, mix all mash ingredients until smooth.
  16. Serve meatballs with the mash.
  17. For the second night meal:
  18. Form remaining turkey mixture into two burger patties with a small divot in the middle.
  19. Over medium heat, crisp two strips of bacon. Remove bacon and cook burgers in bacon fat for about 7 minutes until sides start to brown.
  20. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes.
  21. Serve on top of remaining squash with a dollop of cranberry pesto and bacon.
x vanessa
Bacon Pesto Burgers with Butternut Squash Mash | Plaid and Paleo


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