Recently I’ve been buying the large 4-pack of ground turkey at Costco. Each pack is about 1.5 lbs, so I’ve had to get creative for Chris and I to have a healthy dish without “tasting healthy” (aka bland). Of course, if I could I’d be eating ground beef or sausage instead! Here are a few of the ideas I came up. Hope you enjoy!
- Turkey, Tofu, Tomato Stew – a classic favorite my mom would make growing up, healthy and hearty!
- Turkey & Black Bean Chili – spices and a bit of beef broth help to add a burst of flavor
- Turkey Bolognese – tomato paste and loads of pureed vegetables “beef” up this dish
- Turkey Boscaiola – a woodsy Italian mushroom sauce, my take includes ground turkey, mushrooms, white wine, beef broth, fresh thyme and fennel seeds
- Turkey Asian Lettuce Wraps – a Chinese restaurant classic, make it simple with just soy sauce or jazz it up with hoisin or plum sauce
- Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps – you can easily cheat and use ready made taco seasoning and instead of tortillas or shells use iceberg lettuce
Most of these dishes I’ve recently made up and haven’t really measured. But as always, make sure you taste and season to your liking!
For the Turkey Black Bean Chili, finely chop a 1/2 yellow onion and a few cloves of garlic. Cook those for a couple of minutes and add the ground turkey. Crumble it as you brown and then add in some cumin, coriander and/or chipotle in Adobo if you have it. Add a beef stock cube for extra flavor. Cook for a few minutes then add the strained black beans and about 1 cup of beef broth depending on portions. Let simmer with a bay leaf or two for about a half hour. Taste and adjust salt/pepper/cumin accordingly. Serve with fresh chopped cilantro and/or sour cream. Easy and hearty.
For the Turkey Bolognese, I like to pack in as many vegetables as I can. Sometimes I’ll cheat and use my little Cuisinart chopper and I’ll blitz a couple raw carrots, couple raw celery and about a 1/2 yellow onion. Cook that with some olive oil for a couple minutes. Add the turkey, a good heap of tomato paste (a small tin if you have it), tomato sauce if you have, and a can of chopped tomatoes. For dried herbs, I use what I have in my cabinet so maybe Italian seasoning, some fennel seeds, extra oregano etc. Add a little beef broth if you have it and a good splash of red wine. Add some bay leaves and let this simmer for a good 30-40 minutes to let the flavors blend together. Taste and add salt/pepper/sugar as desired.
For the Bolognese, I used some defrosted roasted cherry tomato sauce I always have on hand instead of can tomatoes. It’s full of so much flavor and the big containers at Costco are much cheaper than the small ones at most grocery stores. Just lay the tomatoes on a baking sheet (with a rim, not a cookie sheet basically). Add several peeled garlic cloves. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil, dusting of kosher salt, and lots of black pepper. Roast at 375F until the tomatoes have all popped (about 30 minutes). Let this cool and using a spoon smash up any remaining tomatoes that haven’t popped and smoosh the roasted garlic. You can then freeze this as is. When you’re ready, pop the ziplock in the microwave for a minute or two. You can then add it to the dish above, maybe add some sauteed onion or shallots and add some broth. But you could also pan fry some fish and serve right on top with some asparagus on the side.
The Turkey Boscaiola is inspired by one of my favorite little restaurants in London – La Porchetta. They make this dish with pork, so I thought it’d be an easy swap for ground turkey. Of course, they make it with delicious and rich cream. I actually made this dish without cream. However, I cheated and used some leftover beef stock/sauce from a Garlic Brisket I had made previously. So the beef stock I added had been reduced and slow cooked with onions and garlic (bursting with flavor!). I think it’ll be just as good with any beef broth. Let this dish simmer to get lots of flavor. If you don’t mind a little decadence then add cream of course! Otherwise, a bit of grated Parmesan on top is just as lovely.
Finally, for the Lettuce Wraps, both are extremely quick and very healthy. Serve it for lunch by putting the already peeled iceberg lettuce leaves into a small plastic bag. For the Asian style, cook some chopped onion and garlic. Add the turkey and cook a few minutes. Add any of the following – soy sauce, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, plum sauce, chili garlic sauce. Remember you can always add more, so go easy, taste and add more if desired. Sesame oil is quite strong so you don’t need much. You can then add some crunch with water chestnuts or peanuts. Brighten it up with fresh chopped cilantro and/or green onion.
For the Taco Lettuce Wraps, simply make taco meat according to a package and serve with fresh cilantro, chopped tomatoes and/or cheese with the iceberg lettuce wraps. If you want to make your own, add a bit of each – tomato paste, cumin, coriander, chili powder, garlic salt.
For the iceberg lettuce, I usually chop the core off. Then chop the lettuce in half. It usually makes it a little easier to get the leaves off. You can always thinly slice the center and make a taco salad!
Hope these mini recipes have given you some inspiration to be healthy. Remember you can always substitute pasta for brown rice or wholewheat pasta or even farro or couscous.