Chosen Bites: A hearty dish!

Chef Laura Frankel shares her secrets for a delicious meal which is also family friendly.

December 8, 2011 12:02
3 minute read.
Herbed Meatballs

Herbed Meatballs 311. (photo credit: Bob Fila/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Sautéed Butternut Squash, Kale with Pasta and Mushrooms

This simple weeknight dish is a powerhouse of healthy ingredients. I love making large batches of this and freezing some of it for leftovers. If you cannot find the Tuscan Kale, use any type of kale in the market or Swiss chard. The meatballs are delicious and make the dish hearty and family friendly.

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Serves 6

Extra virgin olive oil
1 pound sliced mushrooms (cremini, button, shiitake)
1 red onion, julienne
Pinch of crushed red chili flakes
3 cloves garlic
2 cups of butternut squash, peeled and cubed
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 ounces black or Tuscan kale
1 pound cooked whole wheat pasta
2 cups pasta water
½ cup golden raisins
Salt and pepper
Garnishes (sage-turkey meatballs (for meat preparations, fresh herbs, evoo, toasted pumpkin seeds, parmesan cheese for dairy preparations)

1. Place a large saucepan over medium heat. Generously coat the pan with evoo. Add the chili flakes and cook until darkened (about 1 minute). Add the mushrooms and sauté until they have reduced in size and have crispy edges (about 7 minutes). Add the onion and continue cooking until the onion has softened and is caramelized (about 5-7 minutes). Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 2 minutes until the garlic has slightly softened. Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl.

2. Add the butternut squash to the pan and more evoo if needed. Brown the squash until lightly browned on all sides. Add the tomato paste and continue cooking until the paste has darkened (about 3 minutes). Add the kale and pasta cooking water. Simmer until the squash has cooked to fork tender.

3. Add the mushrooms back to the pan and the pasta. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with suggested garnishes

Turkey Meatballs

The secret to really flavorful and moist meatballs is to add a starchy-moist binder. Bread crumbs are typically used. This binder, called a panade in French can also be made from cooked rice, oats or flour helps keep the meat moist and from shriveling up on itself. The panade also needs a liquid. For this recipe is wrote white wine as it adds flavor and a mild sweetness to the meatballs. You can also use chicken or turkey stock or water.

1 pound ground turkey
½ cup soft bread crumbs (leftover challah works well for this)
3 teaspoons white wine, chicken stock or water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (parsley, sage, thyme are my favorites)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly pepper
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 166 C

1. Gently mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Do not smash the ground turkey or knead it too hard or the meatballs will be tough.

2. Divide the mixture into meatballs and with moist hands, roll the mixture into meatballs.

3. Heat a large sauté pan, lightly coated with olive oil, over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides. This will give the meatballs big flavor.

4. Before serving, cook the meatballs in a preheated oven for about 8 minutes.

Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.

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