I cannot believe it's already Thanksgiving week. This year has flown by so quickly and I am amazed at all of the things that happened so far in my life compared to the beginning of the year. For example, Fairpine Lane Foods was brand new in January and now there are over 30 recipes online! Speaking of recipes, now is the time where I see a ton of recipes for Thanksgiving. There are Food Network TV specials running daily to show you all the ways to cook a turkey and make the best traditional side dishes. I've also seen endless recipes for using turkey leftovers, like turkey pot pies, turkey paninis with cranberry dressing, turkey tetrazzini....etc.. Funny enough, I won't be eating turkey and all of the trimmings this Thanksgiving holiday. See, my parents are now vegetarians and being that I am an only child, it doesn't make sense to cook an entire bird just for me. If I were spending Thanksgiving with friends then that would be a different story. But because I'll be with my mom and dad, I will cook us a dinner that they can enjoy. I will be making us a butternut squash lasagna with ricotta, sage and mozzarella. As for a side dish, I usually make a salad but this time I think I'll roast some brussel sprouts with a little honey, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Thanksgiving is also one of the few times a year my dad will drink so maybe I'll pick us up a bottle of red wine. He'll drink red wine for the perceived health and heart benefits, while I'll be drinking it because I'll need a glass of wine.
So I thought I'd share a turkey recipe that doesn't use leftover turkey meat. I like using ground turkey as a substitute for my ragu sauces so I wanted to show how I make my turkey ragu. It's hearty, healthy and great on a cold night.
First you'll need to choose your pasta. I tend to like fresh pasta when I make my own sauce and I found this great whole wheat rigatoni from the dairy case at my local Whole Foods. When cooked, the pasta is nice and al dente and doesn't taste like it's made with whole wheat flour which is a good thing. Actually, whole wheat pasta gets a bad rap. I used to find that they tasted like cardboard but whole wheat pasta is so much better these days and most taste like regular white pasta to me.
You need the following ingredients for the sauce. This recipe will make enough for 4 servings.
1 twenty-eight ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes (I have a preference for the whole canned tomatoes versus pureed or crushed because I like to blend them myself in the blender)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 red onion diced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of really good quality, aged balsamic vinegar or 1/2 cup of red wine that you would drink
1 pound of organic ground turkey, dark meat please (the white meat has no flavor, the dark meat provide the right amount of fat)
2 teaspoons each of dried basil, thyme and oregano
salt and pepper
Start by heating a large dutch oven over medium heat. Once it's nice and warm add the olive oil. Be careful that it's not smoking hot because you'll burn your garlic and onion that way. If the oil is smoking just turn off the heat and let it cool down for a few minutes. Add the onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes until they soften and start to turn translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Then add the ground turkey and break apart the meat, being careful to brown it entirely. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and then add the tomato paste and balsamic vinegar or red wine. Make sure to turn off the heat if you've got a gas stove top when you add the wine and then turn it back on. Stir it into the ground turkey and onion/garlic mixture and cook for another minute. Then add the canned tomatoes and dried herbs. Season again with salt and pepper and bring it up to a boil. Once the sauce is boiling, turn down the heat and let it simmer uncovered on medium-low heat for about 20-25 minutes. The reason why you cook the sauce uncovered is because you want to reduce it and concentrate the flavors. Once it's ready, serve over the pasta and grate a generous portion of Parmesan Reggiano cheese on top. Mangia e bevi!