Thursday, January 28, 2010

Turkey, Spinach, and Lentil Stew over Creamy Polenta

Sorry this one doesn't have a picture. It was a busy night (kids had a band concert) and we were in a hurry to eat, finish homework, and get to bed at a decent hour.

I had bought a package of pre-cooked lentils at Trader Joe's because they caught my eye. I had a bunch of spinach and a tube of pre-made polenta to use, so I concocted this hearty dinner. It was perfect on a cold night. Full of protein, fiber, iron, and vitamins, it is power-packed and filling. The kids had no complaints, even though it featured onions and tomatoes, two ingredients that sometimes earn me an earful of complaints.

Vegetarians could definitely adapt this easily - just leave out the turkey and use vegetable stock instead of chicken broth. The lentils, spinach, tomato, and corn provide all the proteins and stuff you need to make it a complete meal.

Turkey, Spinach, and Lentil Stew over Creamy Polenta

1 tube pre-made polenta
2/3 cup nonfat milk
1/2 pound extra lean ground turkey breast
Salt and Pepper
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots or 8 baby carrots, coarsely chopped
1 large bag (12 ounces) baby spinach leaves
2 Tbsp. dry white wine
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup nonfat chicken broth
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 package pre-cooked lentils (about 1.5 cups)
3 Tbsp. assorted chopped fresh herbs (I used basil, Thyme, and Italian Parsley)

Slice Polenta into thick rounds. Place in a 2-quart sauce pan with the milk. Cover, cook on low 10 minutes or until polenta is softened. Use a potato masher to mash the polenta, then use an immersion blender or hand beater to whip it until free of lumps and creamy (consistency like that of mashed potatoes). Set aside with lid on to keep warm.

Meanwhile, spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Brown the ground turkey, using a wooden spatula to break up lumps. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the meat using a slotted spoon and set aside.

In same pan, warm the olive oil. Add garlic, onion, and carrot, and sautee for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add the wine. Return the turkey to the pan and stir to combine. Place the spinach on top, cover, and allow to steap for a few minutes until the spinach is just wilted.

Add tomatoes, broth, Italian seasoning, and lentils. Cook and stir over medium heat until heated through. (I heated the lentils first in the microwave for a minute to soften them a little). Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in fresh herbs right before serving.

To serve, spoon about 1/2 - 3/4 cup of polenta into a shallow bowl, and put a generous serving of the stew on top (a little more than 1 cup).

Makes 6 servings at 5 WW Points each.

No Sugar Added Persimmon Spice Cake

A neighbor gave us a whole ton of persimmons a few weeks back. They were not quite ripe yet, so I put them in a paper bag and put them in the garage until I had time and an idea of something to do with them.

The first step to using them was to make persimmon pulp. I left the skins on, removed the leaves, and large seeds, and pureed them in my food processor in small batches.

This recipe super easy to make, and is good for people watching their sugar intake, or people on Weight Watchers. Most of the sugar is from the persimmons, and it is very low in fat. This cake has a wonderful spicy flavor very akin to gingerbread. My kids loved it, and it kept well on the counter for several days, covered with plastic wrap.

On the advice of my friend CG the Foodie, I froze the leftover persimmon pulp in 1/2 cup portions for use in smoothies. Their mild flavor means that they go well with virtually any other fruit (without overpowering it).

No Sugar Added Persimmon Cake
1 Box Pillsbury Yellow Reduced Sugar Cake Mix
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups persimmon pulp
1 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup fat-free egg substitute, or 3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine Cake mix and spices in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl to ensure everything is fully incorporated. Batter will be very thick.

Spray a 13x9 pan with cooking spray. Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes 18 servings (square pieces approx. 2" per side) at 2 WW Points per serving