Thursday, December 3, 2009

More Turkey, please...

I hope that Thanksgiving left your tummies full, but certainly not sick from any sneaky gluten that may have found its way onto you plate. I was very thankful for a lovely, quiet meal with my family that was much simpler this year, safe and delicious. I have to say that my mother has really mastered how to prepare a holiday meal sans gluten in the nine + years since my diagnosis.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I found myself at the gym running on the treadmill and burning off some of those delicious calories previously consumed on Thursday. While running and sweating, I noticed that the Food Network had a show that was running called "Ask Aida". If you haven't seen it before, it features a young, enthusiastic gal named Aida who cooks up pretty quick and simple recipes, while answering viewer questions. I have to say, she's darn good at chopping. I was a little jealous while watching how fast her technique is.

She was whipping up a bunch of pasta dishes that looked rather tasty and cheesy - yum. The third dish she prepared caught my eye, given the fact that I was still in the mood to eat turkey, having not really overindulged too much this year on the good old bird, and this particular pasta dish requires ground turkey meat. The name that flashed on the screen was the Italian dish, Pasticcio, though Aida's version is definitely not the original four-hour-intense dish; let's say this is a shortcut version.

I memorized the ingredients and directions while huffing and puffing my way through the workout, and enthusiastically pledged to try this dish, making enough to nosh on throughout the week...and that's exactly what I've been doing. It's delicious. If you are looking for a warm and nutritious, lasagna-type meal everyone will love that will leave you with ample leftovers and a smile, try this modified version of Pasticcio ~ Macaroni pasta, ground turkey, tomato sauce, spinach and mozzarella.

Serves 8

- 1 Bag Tinkyata brown rice elbows, gluten-free macaroni pasta (or larger penne if preferred

- 1 Lb. of ground turkey breast

- 1/4 Cup sliced garlic or shallots

- 1/2 Large sweet onion chopped

- 3 Tbsp. Olive oil

- 1 12 Oz. jar of your favorite GF pasta/pomodoro sauce

- 2 Cups freshly shredded mozzarella

- 3 Cups fresh, washed spinach leaves (remove stems)

- 1 Tbsp. GF cinnamon

- Salt and pepper (to taste)

Saute sliced garlic and onions with olive oil until golden brown, then add ground turkey, jar of tomato sauce and cinnamon. Mix all ingredients together then turn heat to medium and simmer for ten minutes. Boil entire bag of pasta and cook until al dente, then strain and set to the side until turkey is cooked. (Tip - I always throw a few drizzles of olive oil in with my strained pasta and stir, to keep from sticking together).

Spray non-stick olive oil on to casserole dish then layer half of the pasta into the dish, just covering the surface. Layer pan of ground turkey mixture onto pasta and evenly smooth over entire surface. Layer fresh spinach over the turkey until it's completely and evenly covered. Spread 1 cup of mozzarella over spinach. Finally, evenly layer the remaining pasta over the spinach and toss on the second cup of mozzarella, e poi...finito!

Your pre-heated oven will be set at 350 degrees - cook the dish for 25 minutes. I would recommend covering the dish for the first 15 minutes to seal in the juices, then uncover to lightly brown the top.

Not only will this simple and quick dish allow you more time for all those Christmas and holiday bargains you are going to be looking for online, but the aromas it creates in your kitchen are intoxicating - you can thank me later.

Try not to eat the entire casserole dish in one sitting. If you do, don't blame me. Just head to the gym. The treadmill is awaiting your arrival.

Happy cooking ~

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