Easy Turkey Ratatouille

Can anyone even hear the word “ratatouille” anymore without thinking of the Pixar movie? Or for that matter, did anyone know was Ratatouille was before that movie?

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I’m not even sure if I can answer that question myself. I’ve been making ratatouille for years – ever since I found the recipe in one of my old cookbooks and thought it sounded good. That, and I was trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into my diet…not because I wanted to be a vegetarian, but I was following a very clean diet at the time and was varying meat meals with vegetarian meals. Anyway. I was living overseas at the time and frankly I can’t remember which came first – finding the recipe, or seeing the movie.

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It’s funny how even now sitting down with a bowl of ratatouille sparks memories of my various overseas homes. Whenever I was homesick for the States I’d make a huge pot of the thick vegetable stew and eat it with a sprinkling of shredded cheese and some crusty french bread and dream about Pennsylvania. Which is odd, considering we never ate ratatouille when I lived in PA – my father won’t touch eggplant, zucchini, peppers, or squash, and I didn’t ever make it when I was living by myself in PA…but for some reason, I equate the two.

I dunno.

easy turkey ratatouille | eatwriterunrepeat.com

I mentioned that traditional ratatouille is a vegetarian dish and that’s how I used to prepare it…before I married the consummate carnivore. I know Kevin would eat the vegetarian version if I served it to him, but I can pretty much guarantee that thirty minutes after dinner he’d be scrounging for some protein. So my easy solution to the problem was to toss in a pound of ground turkey to this dish – perfection!

This is another great one-pot meal to make on a cold night…and with the addition of the turkey, even the carnivores in your family will leave the table feeling full!

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EASY TURKEY RATATOUILLE

prep time: 15 minutes (long enough to chop all your veggies)

cook time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

1.5lbs ground turkey

1 eggplant, cut in chunks

2 green zucchini, cut in chunks

2 yellow squash, cut into chunks

1 onion, diced

2 bell peppers (I used one green and one red), cut into chunks

1 can diced tomatoes (no salt added)

1 jar tomato sauce (I used marinara)

2 cloves garlic, minced

olive oil

your favorite red wine (optional)

salt, pepper

your favorite italian seasonings (I used an italian herb blend, rosemary, thyme and basil)

chipotle chili powder (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat approximately 2 tbsp oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and sautee until translucent. Add your turkey to the pan and brown. Add eggplant, squash, bell pepper, and zucchini and cook until the vegetables are starting to get tender. Add diced tomatoes, seasonings, tomato sauce and a splash of red wine (if using) and stir to combine. For an extra kick, add a couple of shakes of chipotle chili powder. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer another 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.

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Italian Parmesan Meatballs with “Zoodles”

So, the microwave in our office is located on a shelf that sits directly above our very expensive color printer, which was just recently replaced I might add. Does this seem like a really bad idea to anyone else? Especially when microwaving something involving, oh I don’t know, marinara sauce?

(If our printer suddenly stops working, I had nothing to do with it.)

And speaking of marinara sauce, just wait until you see what I have in store for you today!

meatballs 1

Is this picture somewhat cheesy? Ok, maybe it is. Did I see stars when I first took a bite of this awesome dish? Maybe not exactly, but close enough! It was that. good.

This was the first time I’ve made “zoodles”, or noodles made out of green zucchini. My Mom bought me a julienne peeler for Christmas just for that reason, and it’s…July. Heh. Whoops. Better late than never!

Making the noodles was surprisingly easy, once I got the hang of the julienne peeler. Then I simply took the “noodles” and tossed them into a hot skillet with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then I topped my zoodles with my italian parmesan meatballs and that was that!

meatballs 2

The result? One of the best meals I’ve eaten in a long time No lie. I know I say that a lot, and I may may just the slightest bit dramatic sometimes, but seriously? The meal was definitely worth it.

When I first set out to make dinner I intended to use my ground turkey to make meatloaf. For whatever reason I changed my mind at the eleventh hour and made meatballs instead! These particular “italian parmesan meatballs” consist of ground turkey, shredded parmesan cheese (obviously), onion, fresh parsley and spices. You could easily omit the cheese to be truly paleo (and Whole30 approved, which is good because I’m going to be starting another Whole30 in the very near future), but I think the parmesan adds a little flavor kick.

meatball 4

They’re so cute, aren’t they?

These meatballs (very similarly to my apple cinnamon breakfast sausage) can be baked or pan fried, although I prefer baking because it uses less oil and makes less of a mess in my kitchen. Once I took them out of the oven, I tossed them with some sauce (full disclosure: because I had half a jar of pizza sauce left over from my cauliflower crust pizza, I used that. It was awesome – probably because pizza sauces uses more spices than regular marinara sauce).

You could also serve these meatballs over spaghetti squash, but to be honest? I think I prefer the zucchini! It holds up better and to me it felt more like spaghetti noodles. But, to each his own!

meatball 3

WHAT YOU NEED (makes approximately 15 meatballs)

1 lb ground turkey

1/2 white onion, diced fine

1 handful fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

1 tbsp savory seasoning (I used McCormick’s salt free blend)

1 egg

1/4 cup pecan meal

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

1 clove garlic, minced

WHAT TO DO:

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Form into uniform sized meatballs and lay out on a aluminum foil covered baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Toss with your favorite pasta sauce and serve over zoodles or spaghetti squash; or enjoy these little guys just plain!

meatballs 6

Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan

So, I started watching the TV show Bones again.

29 May 056

I stopped watching Bones about a year ago, maybe more, when I just sort of got tired of the whole “Are they or aren’t they going to get together” question. And then I was introduced to the TV show Castle, and the love story there was just too good to resist, so it became my new show. Unfortunately, I’m all caught up on Castle, and I just finished watching Season 1 of Downton Abbey, which I LOVED (where have I been?!), but Netflix only has Season 1 and so I’m stuck without a TV show to watch. I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, but seriously? That’s too much drama, even for me, and I found myself practically suffering anxiety attacks from watching it. I mean, Lexie and McSteamy?! Really?! Why???

Yes, I am living about three years behind the rest of the world. Forgive me.

So anyway, I was trying to figure out what TV show to watch tonight, since I had some free time on my hands and The Man is working, and I came across Bones. True, I’m about two seasons behind, but hey, it gives me something to do, right? Of course right!

What’s that got to do with eggplant, you ask? Well, nothing, really.

29 May 042

When I first set out to make this dish, I started with an idea in mind that was more like…meatloaf stuffed inside a hollowed out eggplant shell. And then, halfway through the cooking, I decided I was in the mood for rich, hearty tomato sauce, and turned it into a sort-of eggplant parmesan instead.

Kind of like I wanted to watch Season 2 of Downton Abbey but Netflix didn’t have it, so I settled for Bones?

Yeah, let’s go with it.

29 May 052

For me, this dish just screams comfort food. I don’t know why I equate tomato sauce based dishes with comfort food, when I really don’t care too much for spaghetti, but it is what it is. Maybe because it’s rich and hearty? Or maybe I’m just making it up, who knows. But anyway, although this faux eggplant parmesan would be more suited for a cold winter’s night when you need something to stick to your bones, it is exactly what I wanted today. When it hit 97 degrees outside.

29 May 016

I spent three years in the Middle East, you’d think I’d be used to this, but nope!

Anyway, back to the eggplant. Aside from roasting the eggplant soft enough to scoop out the insides, it was a pretty easy meal. Just takes some patience while you wait for it to bake to a golden perfection. I took the scooped out eggplant “meat” and sauteed it with garlic, onion, zucchini, ground turkey, and some lovely tomato basil sauce and voila! Stuffed eggplant parmesan!

Happiness.

29 May 045

WHAT YOU’LL NEED: (serves two)

1 medium-large eggplant

1/2 lb ground turkey (or beef or pork)

1/4 cup diced onion

1/2 cup diced zucchini

2 gloves minced garlic

1-2 cups fresh tomato sauce (more or less depending on your preference)

shredded cheese (I used grass fed cheddar)

salt and pepper

olive oil

WHAT TO DO:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice eggplant in half, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper, and place in baking dish, cut side up. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until eggplant gives easily when you try to cut the insides out. This may take longer than you think. Once you’ve cut out the insides of the eggplant, chop into bite sized pieces and saute with garlic, onions, and zucchini until all vegetables are tender. Set aside. In the same skillet, brown turkey meat. Add vegetables and tomato sauce and stir to combine. Fill eggplant shells with the vegetable-turkey-sauce mixture and bake in oven for additional 30-40 minutes or until eggplant shells are soft and easily pierced with fork. Sprinkle with shredded cheese for last 10 minutes of baking, until cheese is beautiful and bubbly.

29 May 061

I highly recommend enjoying this dish with a full bodied red wine.