Monday, September 13, 2010

An EndSummer Night's Panic

Last week, in response to the "official" end of summer that is Labor Day, I went into a full on panic.

I was mourning the loss of free time, a dip in finances, and solemnly lamenting the transformation into "Mr. Duff" and bid "Scott" a fond farewell for the next nine months.

My response:  to cook up a storm.

I made pesto and green goddess dressing.  I made minted grilled eggplant to incorporate into couscous and paprika covered roasted chicken.  There were fennel and caramelized onion turkey burgers, sweet potato fries with curried mayonnaise, and mango and strawberry fro yo with basil.  And J was in Mississippi celebrating his parent's 50th wedding anniversary.

It was nothing less than manic.

When J returned to Memphis, two days later, I had wanted to make something special for him.  His request:  pasta.


Well...I had some ground turkey still on hand, some spinach penne, tomatoes, and the bounty of the past few days in the fridge.

Here is what I made.

Okay, so this is with chicken and not turkey balls,
but it's still tasty.
Spinach Penne with Sauteed Tomatoes and Turkey Meatballs

1 lb spinach penne
1 lb cherry tomatoes
2 Tbl chili oil
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup pesto
5 oz fresh spinach
Turkey Meatballs (recipe follows)

Get that water boiling for the pasta.  Once it comes to a rolling boil, add a bunch of salt (do you like the exact measurements?) and let that penne cook.  Roughly 13 minutes.  After six minutes, in a large preheated saute pan, throw in the 'maters. Do that fancy chef tossy thing and let those bad lads release their juices.  After four minutes, add garlic.  Cook for an additional two minutes.  Throw in parsley.

Before draining pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water.  Drain pasta and return to the pot.  Add pesto and tomatoes and toss to coat.  Add spinach and hot pasta water to help wilt.  Spoon into a bowl and top with Turkey Meatballs.

Turkey Meatballs

Taking the time to caramelize onions and fennel not only give the meatballs tremendous flavor but adds the necessary fat to prevent them from drying out.  'Cuz no one likes dry turkey balls.

1 lb ground turkey
1/2 large Vidalia onion, sliced
1/2 funnel bulb, sliced
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup bread crumbs

In a small sauce pan, heat butter and oil over low heat until butter has melted.  Add onions and fennel and season with salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid to speed up the caramelizing process.  That's right...we're caramelizing these suckers.  Stir occasionally and be patient.  This takes about 30 minutes.  Once they have turned a lovely golden color, transfer mixture to food processor and puree until a smooth consistency.

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, egg, cheese, bread crumbs, and onion/fennel mixture with your hands, until all ingredients are incorporated.  Using a small ice cream scoop to portion, roll turkey into meatballs and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

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