weeknight gourmet

Category : Turkey

Weelicious: Turkey Pesto Meatballs

My friend Amy bought me the Weelicious cookbook for my birthday.  The recipes are family-friendly, healthy, and relatively easy to make.

Other than hot dogs, Charlotte is not much of a meat eater.  But I keep trying new things in the hope that I find a dish or two featuring meat that she’ll enjoy.  The Weelicious cookbook is proving to be a good source for some recipes Charlotte will enjoy.

These turkey meatballs looked so simple but tasty!  The addition of pesto looked interesting and added a nice flavor.  Charlotte and I both enjoyed them!  She did not devour them but eating one meatball was a win!

One note: I had to cook the meatballs for about 10 minutes longer than the recipe called for.

Turkey Pesto Emails
Adapted from Weelicious Cookbook

  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey
  • 1/4 store-bought pesto
  • 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 cups tomato sauce (I used Rao’s)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the turkey, pesto, bread crumbs, cheese, and salt in a large bowl and combine thoroughly.

Pour the tomato sauce into a 9×9 baking pan.

Use about 1 tablespoon per meatball, roll the mixture into balls and place in baking pan.  Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes, or until cooked through.


Turkey Meatloaf

Here is a super simple and delicious turkey meatloaf.

I made a few changes so I could use what was in our fridge.  I used swiss chard and curly parsley (from my mother-in-law’s garden) instead of spinach and flat-leaf parsley.  I also used seasoned breadcrumbs — didn’t have whole wheat breadcrumbs.  I think the addition of dijon mustard added a great flavor to the meatloaf.


Turkey Meatloaf
Real Simple

  • 1 1/2  pounds  lean ground turkey
  • 1  onion, chopped
  • 1  bunch spinach, thick stems removed and leaves chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1  cup  fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2  cup  whole-wheat bread crumbs
  • 2  tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1  large egg white
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4  cup  ketchup

Heat oven to 400° F. In a bowl, combine the turkey, onion, spinach, parsley, bread crumbs, mustard, egg white, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet and form it into a 10-inch loaf. Spread with the ketchup. Bake until cooked through, 45 to 50 minutes.


Turkey & Bean Chili

As you have probably surmised by now, I love chili!   The other day I wanted to make a chili that Charlotte could try; so, my go-to turkey chili which is super spicy did not fit the bill.  I found this recipe in my new Real Simple cookbook and it was a hit!  Much milder than what I usually cook which was perfect for Charlotte.  And, I just needed to add a few dashes of Cholula to my bowl for a bit of a kick.

The recipe seem very heavy on the beans relative to the turkey — it calls for 1/2 pound of ground turkey and 2 cans of kidney beans.  I upped the turkey to 1 pound.  If you increase the turkey to a full pound, you might up the chili powder and cumin a bit.

In the last few minutes of cooking, I added frozen corn for some color, crunch, and additional flavor.  Serve with avocado, shredded cheese, and sour cream.

Overall, the chili was tasty and a nice change of pace from my usual turkey chili.

Turkey & Bean Chili
Real Simple

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey (preferably dark meat)
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper or 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • cilantro sprigs, for serving

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes.  Add the turkey and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, and chili pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes and their juices, beans, ½ cup water, 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 12 to 15 minutes.

Serve the chili with the sour cream and cilantro.

Autumn Dinner: Pasta with Spicy Sausage & Kale

Autumn days and autumn nights,
Autumn feelings and autumn sights.

Leaves of red, yellow and gold,
Afternoons so bright and bold.

These are two lines of a poem I wrote in the fifth grade.  I can’t remember the rest of the poem but I always think of these lines as soon as there is a chill and crispness to the air.  (Yes – it’s quite dorky that I can remember something from Indian Hill School.)  There is a distinct feeling I get when fall arrives and I start to crave a different type of food — heartier, more comforting.

Here is a great weeknight dish using a wonderful fall / winter green — kale!  I tried to make the recipe healthier using whole wheat pasta and turkey sausage.  The spicy sausage, cheese, and broth all lend great flavor to the dish.  If you don’t like spicy food, sweet turkey sausage would be delicious as well.

I used pine nuts in the recipe but I don’t think they add a ton to the dish.  So, if you don’t have them on hand or don’t eat nuts, just omit them.  The pasta will be tasty without them.

The recipe as written will make 4 servings.  I’m already planning to eat some leftovers for dinner tomorrow night when Tim has class.

Orecchiette with Spicy Sausage and Kale

1 pound whole wheat orecchiette or shells
1 pound spicy turkey sausage, casings removed
Olive oil
About 4 cups kale, torn into bite-sized shreds
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup toasted pine-nuts
1 cup grated Parmesan

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the sausage and cook until browned.  Add the kale to the pan. Pour the chicken broth in, cover, and cook for about 8 minutes, or until the kale is wilted and tender.

Add kale-sausage mixture, pine-nuts, cheese, and reserved 1/2 cup of pasta water into the cooked pasta.  Serve with additional cheese.

Serves 4.

Easiest Stuffed Zucchini & Peppers

I bought some beautiful red bell peppers and zucchini balls at the farmer’s market.  The zucchini ball seemed perfect for stuffing so I search for a stuffed pepper / zucchini recipe.  My challenge was to find a recipe that did not involve rice or a grain as Tim and I were cutting down on the carbs.  I found this Giada recipe, which uses ground turkey, that fit the bill!

The dish tasted like a delicious meatball inside the baked vegetable.  I loved it — so flavorful!  Plus, without the rice to cook and with the store-bought marinara (I used Rao’s), it was actually a very easy weeknight dinner.  Serve with a simple green salad to round out the meal.

Stuffed Zucchini & Bell Peppers
Giada de Laurentiis

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/4 cup dried plain bread crumbs
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 2 zucchini, ends removed, halved lengthwise and crosswise
  • 1 short orange bell pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1 short red bell pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1 short yellow bell pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Lightly drizzle the olive oil into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Whisk the onion, parsley, egg, ketchup, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the cheese and bread crumbs. Mix in the turkey. Cover and refrigerate the turkey mixture.

Using a melon baller or spoon, carefully scrape out the seeds and inner flesh from the zucchini, leaving 1/8-inch-thick shells. Be careful not to pierce through the skin. Fill the zucchini and pepper halves with the turkey mixture, dividing equally and mounding slightly. Arrange the stuffed vegetables in the baking dish. Pour the marinara sauce over the stuffed vegetables.

Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown and a thermometer inserted into the filling registers 165 degrees F, about 45 minutes. Transfer the stuffed vegetables to a platter and serve.

Turkey Milanese

Tim and my go-to delivery restaurant is a place called Good in the West Village.  We typically order their crisp turkey scallopine with arugula, ricotta salata & lemon-caper vinaigrette.  I think we are single-handedly responsible for it becoming one of Good’s most popular items on SeamlessWeb.

Giada’s Turkey Milanese recipe seemed like it would be a good homemade version of our takeout favorite.  I think I prefer Good’s version but this was delicious!  The turkey cutlets were super crispy and flavorful.

And, for all you moms out there, this is a very kid-friendly dish.  The kids may not love the arugula salad, but I am sure they will love the cutlets!

Turkey Milanese
Giada de Laurentiis

  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 8 cutlets) turkey breast, pounded 1/8-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 5 cups (5 ounces) baby arugula
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 (2-ounce) block Parmesan
  • Lemon wedges

Using a meat tenderizer or a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, pound the turkey until 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick.

Combine the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Place the eggs in a second medium bowl. Place the bread crumbs in a third medium bowl. Season the turkey on both sides with salt and pepper.  Dredge the turkey in the flour and shake off any excess flour. Dip the turkey into the eggs and then into the bread crumbs to coat. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the turkey, in batches, until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes on each side, adding more oil, if needed. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels.

Arrange the arugula on a large serving platter and top with the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the turkey on top of the tomatoes. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan over the turkey. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Note: I halved the recipe.

Turkey Meatloaf with Feta & Sun-dried Tomatoes

I’ve always loved Giada (and am more than a little bit jealous of how she can cook and eat such delicious food and have such an amazing figure).

But now more than ever I am developing a real appreciation for her recipes because they are always packed with flavor, many are healthy, AND most are actually easy enough for a weeknight meal.

I made this turkey meatloaf a couple of weeks ago.  It was definitely different than your traditional meatloaf — reminded me more of a turkey burger — but had wonderful flavor from the feta and sun-dried tomatoes.  Definitely follow the recommendation for the ground dark meat.  It doesn’t have that much more fat and will lend more flavor to the dish.

I served the meatloaf with a Greek salad for a delicious dinner!

Turkey Meatloaf with Feta & Sun-dried Tomatoes
Giada de Laurentiis

  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic and herb-marinated sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, optional
  • 2 eggs , at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan  with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, if using, eggs, milk, feta, salt, and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine, being careful not to overwork the meat.

Carefully pack the meat mixture into the prepared pan and bake until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and slice. Put on a serving platter and serve.

Looking for Menu Ideas? Real Simple's Four-Week Dinner Plan

I used to grocery shop multiple times per week.  I would just pick up what I needed for dinner that night on my way home from work.  That’s not a realistic option now that Charlotte has come along and I am working full time.  Menu planning (and some shortcuts courtesy of Trader Joe’s and Fresh Direct) has become key to my weeknight cooking.

October’s issue of Real Simple Magazine features a four-week dinner plan.  Not having a ton of time to look for menu ideas, I decided to give Week 1 of the plan a whirl!  I made 4 of the 5 recipes.  They were all quite good but I thought the Penne with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella and the Pork Cutlets with Spicy Noodles really stood out!  Real Simple provided a shopping list making my life even easier!   I bought all of the ingredients on a Sunday and was prepared for a week of tasty, healthy eating!

The four recipes I made are below.

Roasted Tilapia, Potatoes, and Lemons

Very tasty!  I used tri-colored fingerling potatoes which were tasty and provided some great color to the dish.  The lemon and olives lend a great flavor to the very mild tilapia.

  • 1 pound baby potatoes (about 12), halved
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 4 6-ounce skinless tilapia fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
Heat oven to 400° F.  On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes, lemon, thyme, 2 tablespoons oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer.  Roast, tossing once, until the potatoes begin to soften, about 20 minutes.
Toss the olives with the potato mixture; nestle the fish in it. Drizzle the fish with the remaining oil and season with paprika and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Continue to roast until the potatoes are golden brown and crisp and the fish is opaque throughout, 12 to 15 minutes.

Penne With Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella

Delicious!  I skipped the mint and used basil instead.  I also added some grated parmesan.

  • 1/2 pound penne (1⁄2 box)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 1⁄4 pounds), cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the eggplant. Cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, red pepper, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, tossing, until the tomatoes soften, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the tomato mixture to the pasta, along with the mozzarella and reserved cooking water. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with the mint.

Turkey Burgers With Creamy Romaine Slaw

This was my least favorite of the four dishes but it was still tasty!  To save time I used shredded carrots.  And, we used sandwich thins as opposed to buns to save on calories.

  • 1 pound ground dark meat turkey (93 percent lean or less)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 leaves romaine lettuce, thinly sliced crosswise (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
  • 4 soft rolls, split and toasted
  • potato chips and pickles, for serving

In a medium bowl, gently combine the turkey, mustard, thyme, and scallions. Form the meat into four ¾-inch-thick patties. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Toss with the lettuce and carrot.

Serve the burgers on the rolls, topped with the slaw. Serve with chips and pickles (if desired).

Pork Cutlets With Spicy Noodles

This was delicious!  I had trouble finding udon noodles so I used a brown rice spaghetti that I found at Trader Joe’s.  The noodles had great flavor from the broth, ginger, and jalapeno.  The pork was delicious as well!  I used two butterflied pork chops.

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 pound udon noodles
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced
  • 1 red jalapeño pepper, sliced
  • 4 thin pork cutlets (about 3⁄4 pound total)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 scallions, sliced

In a large pot, bring the chicken broth and ginger to a boil.

Add the noodles and cook, stirring, until the broth is nearly absorbed and the noodles are al dente, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and jalapeño and simmer until the mushrooms are just tender, 1 to 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, season the pork with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Coat with the flour, then the egg, and finally the panko.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pork until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Slice the pork and serve over the noodles. Sprinkle with the scallions.

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

by Weeknight Gourmet Guest Blogger Happy Farrow

Here’s another quick and delicious recipe.  I never thought to make lettuce wraps at home, but after discovering how easy they are to prepare, they’ve become a regular weeknight meal at our house.  I usually substitute carrots for cucumbers and add green onion, assembling as one would a taco, rather than mixing the vegetables and mint with the turkey.

*Making your own peanut sauce is easy enough, and homemade tastes so much better than bottled options.  For the lettuce wraps, I make a little less than half of the peanut sauce recipe and skip the food processor step (it all blends into a creamy consistency when added to the cooked turkey).

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Bon Appetit, August 2002
Yield:  4 servings

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup purchased Asian peanut sauce*
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus additional soy sauce for dipping
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint plus 1/3 cup small mint sprigs
  • 12 large butter lettuce leaves

Heat peanut oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add turkey and sauté until brown and cooked through, breaking up with back of spoon, about 7 minutes. Add peanut sauce, hoisin sauce, and 1 tablespoon soy sauce; heat through. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat in microwave or skillet, adding water by tablespoonfuls to moisten if necessary, before continuing.) Stir in cucumber and chopped mint. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer turkey mixture to medium bowl. Place mint sprigs and lettuce leaves on platter. To make wraps, spoon turkey mixture onto lettuce leaf, add a few mint sprigs, fold in sides over filling, and roll up. Pass additional soy sauce alongside wraps for dipping.

*Peanut Sauce
Tyler Florence
Yield:  3 cups

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons red chili paste, such as sambal
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, red chili paste, brown sugar, and lime juice in a food processor or blender. Puree to combine. While the motor is running, drizzle in the hot water to thin out the sauce, you may not need all of it.

Happy is freelance designer (http://www.happyfarrow.com/index.html) and lives in Boston with her husband James and daughter Cecily.

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Dave Jewell's Turkey Soup!

My dad always cooked the Thanksgiving turkey and on the Friday after Thanksgiving he would make his famous turkey soup!  We all loved the soup and the tradition.  As with everything he did, my dad made a very big deal out of his soup and always believe it was the best ever.

I’ve never made the soup before but decided I would give it a whirl this year.  My mom found the Fannie Farmer recipe that he roughly followed.  I modified it slightly — below is the recipe I used.

1.  Cut majority of leftover meat off the turkey carcass. Put carcass in stock pot and fill with water.
2.  Slice 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks (including leaves) and 1 onion and add to stock pot.  Crush 6 peppercorns and add to pot.
3.  Bring pot to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 3 hours.
4.  Remove the carcass and any bones that may have fallen off.
5.  Add rice, barley or noodles.  Increase heat until the grain of your choosing is fully cooked.
6.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Despite the carcass appearing not to have much meat on it, the soup was chock full of meat.  Feel free though to add additional leftover turkey to stock.

Soup can be enjoyed immediately or is even tastier a few hours later or the next day!  We had some for dinner on Friday, I had a bowl for lunch on Saturday, and I froze the remainder.  I think my dad would be very happy that I continued the turkey soup tradition!