Friday, May 4, 2012

The Perfect Night-Before Pre-Marathon Meal! What I'm Cooking: Turkey and Artichoke Heart Pasta

Sometimes, a recipe will hit me like a ton of bricks and I'll obsess over the flavors until I can get myself into my domain kitchen.  I was at work the other day and I was craving spaghetti.  Recently, my meals have been on the lighter side and I was yearning for something heavier and heartier.  Work days can be a bit challenging because I work such long hours and oftentimes, I get home and crash, with just enough energy to complete that night's P90X workout.

But on this particular night, I was motivated to buckle down and make exactly what I wanted.  I went to the pantry, grabbed what was available and came up with this:

Turkey and Artichoke Heart Pasta (makes 4 large servings or 6 small servings)

1 cup whole grain wide noodles (I used Ronzoni Healthy Harvest)
1-1/4 lb lean ground turkey
1/4 tsp cumin
2 large garlic cloves, minced and divided into 2 portions
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 8-oz can artichoke hearts (quartered), drained
3-1/4 cups spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup red wine
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp crushed red pepper (I like it spicy!), divided into 2 portions
salt and pepper, to taste

In a pot of boiling salty water, cook the whole grain pasta until it is al dente (approximately 7 to 8 minutes).
In the meantime, in a large pan, over medium heat, cook the ground turkey with the cumin, half of the minced garlic, and half of the crushed red pepper until it is cooked through.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the remaining garlic and onions to the same pan and cook for a minute.  Pour the red wine and balsamic vinegar on top to help scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan and to help soften the onions.  Cook uncovered for a few minutes until the onions and garlic have softened and the red wine and balsamic have reduced by half.  Add the cherry tomatoes and using a spoon, gently squish them against the bottom of the pan.  Once the tomatoes look like they have softened up, add the artichoke hearts, tomato sauce, herbs, garlic and remaining crushed red pepper.   Reduce heat, add the ground turkey back in and let simmer for several minutes.  Once the noodles are done, all them into the pan, along with a spoonful of the pasta water, and mix all the ingredients together.  Season with fresh ground pepper and serve into bowls.

This dish is having a bit of an identity crisis.  It's not sure if it's an Italian pasta or whether it's a version of a chili.  Either way, it was exactly what I was aiming for.  I have really been loving canned artichoke hearts and  hearts of palm lately.  They have showed up in several of my recent dishes.

I've had leftovers for a few days now.  It was perfect for my work lunch yesterday.  Even going with the larger portion, I was able to stay under 500 calories.  I know that we are definitely into summer now with temperatures close to the 80s but I still thoroughly enjoyed this meal!

PS, I am NOT running in the Indianapolis Mini Marathon tomorrow but I have several friends who are.  So to you awesome/crazy people, I wish you the best of luck!

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