Makes 4 servings.
Escarole is one of my favorite ingredients to utilize in a myriad of recipes. I just love how it works with just about any other food combination - beans, sausage, ground beef, poultry, fruit - just about anything! In this recipe, I combined it with miniature turkey meatballs that swing slightly towards the Swedish Meatball end of the spectrum thanks to the small amount of nutmeg and allspice I utilized in the ground turkey mixture. Either way, this is one of my winter favorites and if you're a lover of escarole dishes as am I, I'm sure you enjoy it as well.
Who doesn't like good old-fashioned "Meatloaf"? After all, as far as comfort foods go, it's right up there with Macaroni n' Cheese and as ingrained in the fabric of Americana as Apple Pie. The thing is, I don't always want something as hearty (and perhaps, as caloric) as beef, and in this case, turkey makes for a far healthier option. This recipe, though hearty in and of itself, is a far leaner version with ground nutmeg and allspice flavorings that subtly bring to mind the essence of "Swedish Meatballs".
I feel there are few leafy vegetables that are as visually pleasing as Red Chard. I also feel that with the exception of Broccoli Rabe, there are few that rival it in terms of flavor. I enjoy this meal because while it is satisfying and filling, it is on the healthier side.
1. Mix ground turkey with 4 cloves minced garlic, parsley, red onion, bread crumbs, Adobo, black pepper, crushed red pepper and egg and thoroughly combine.
2. Roll into small balls and place in preheated 375º oven. Cook 35 minutes until slightly browned.
3. While turkey meatballs are baking, heat olive oil in deep skillet and cook garlic until browned. Add onions.
4. Cook over medium heat until onions are soft and translucent.
5. Remove turkey meatballs from oven.
6. Add turkey meatballs to skillet and continue to cook until onions begin to caramelize to a light brown.
7. De-glaze pan with 8 oz chicken stock and bring to simmering boil.
8. Clean and dry chard. Discard heaviest stems and roughly chop the rest. Add to skillet.
9. Turn heat to medium/high and cover. Cook approximately 8-10 minutes, until chard wilts and stems are soft.
10. Remove from heat and plate. Top with grated Romano cheese if desired.
Spaghetti Squash is an oblong, seed-bearing variety of Winter Squash. Also referred to as vegetable spaghetti or noodle squash, its variety of colors can range from a light cream color to yellow to orange, depending on the carotene content of the particular squash.
When it is raw, it has a solid flesh and looks very similar to the interior of any other raw squash. However, when cooked, its flesh falls away in strands not unlike that of actual spaghetti pasta; hence the name. The similarity between the two is something I find fascinating. And that's not where the similarities end.
In much the same way as pasta, Spaghetti Squash can be boiled, baked, steamed and even microwaved. It too can be served with or without sauce, included marinara, alfredo or even simpler, olive oil. Its likeness and qualities are so alike, that it is often substituted for pasta as a low calorie/low carb alternative.
It too, makes a wonderful side dish when mixed with other veggies such as broccoli or cauliflower and tossed with a light vinaigrette or again, a teaspoon or two of olive oil.
I'd like to say this is a dish where its use as a pasta alternative is demonstrated, however, in this recipe the Spaghetti Squash is indeed the star of the show and stands on its on merit in this filling and healthy low calorie/low carb dish which includes ground turkey and crushed tomatoes.
The TURKEY Preparation:
1. Begin by mincing the garlic and dicing the onion.
2. Add 1 tsp olive oil to a hot skillet (again, I prefer cast-iron for this application). Add garlic and onions to skillet.
3. Although you can implement ground beef, or even ground pork for that matter, the theme of this dish is "healthy" and lean ground turkey is what I am using. However, ground turkey is somewhat bland in flavor due to its low "fat" content which means, you usually should be slightly more heavy-handed with the spices. Add the garlic powder, Adobo seasoning and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to one side of the ground turkey.
4. Place the ground turkey spice side down into the skillet with the onions and garlic.
5. Begin to break up the ground turkey, allowing the flavors of the onions, garlic and spices to coat and work into the meat.
6. Add the fennel seeds and continue stirring from time to time and continue to cook until turkey is browned.
7. When the turkey is nicely browned (as shown above), pour 1/4 cup of a good red wine (I used a quality Cab) into the skillet, stirring thoroughly.
8. Add 1 cup of crushed tomatoes to skillet and stir thoroughly.
9. Remove from heat and keep warm until ready to mix with...
The SPAGHETTI SQUASH Preparation:
1. While bringing a large pot of water to boil, cut the ends off the squash. Also, with a paring knife, make approximately a dozen perforations about 1/2" deep into the squash's skin. This will not only make it cook quicker, but more evenly.
2. Place squash into water, return to boil and cover tightly. Cook at boil for 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the squash. You will be able to tell it is done when a knife can easily be pushed through the squash with minimal pressure as shown in the photo below.
3. The squash should easily cut and proceed to split it lengthwise. In doing so, the seeds should be visible as shown below.
4. At this point, the seeds can easily be removed quickly with a fork as shown in the above left photo. Once removed, the spaghetti-like squash below will be visible as shown in above right photo.
5. With a fork, gently begin to stroke the squash's inner flesh in a downward motion and the spaghetti-like ribbons will begin to fall away. Continue to do both halves and let fall into a bowl.
6. When completed, drizzle a couple of teaspoons of extra virgin olive on squash and gently mix to coat evenly. This will prevent sticking, while adding flavor.
7. Add browned turkey and crushed tomatoes and mixed thoroughly.
8. Top with Locatelli Romano Cheese and serve.
All photos by Len Boccassini • All Rights Reserved • ©2014 Foodidude Productions