Quinoa and ground turkey – a perfect protein partnership!

On paper, quinoa and ground turkey seem compatible enough.  Both are packed with protein and potassium and when the two are mentioned in the same sentence, or featured in the same meal if you will, any number of main course + side dish or protein star +grain accompaniment equations come to mind.  It’s obvious the two can play well together but they usually exist as separate entities – each fulfilling their own unique role but maintaining their independence while retaining their respective spots on the plate.

Though ground turkey and quinoa can more than peacefully coexist in the same meal, albeit on their own designated turfs, it’s when you marry the two into one dish that real magic can happen!  Ground turkey lends itself to so many possibilities and flavors.  Ground turkey’s shredded consistency however, can often benefit from a starchy partner- something to literally hold it together and give it more body.  Quinoa for its part is also very amenable to seasoning and can fit seamlessly into various flavor profiles; more importantly quinoa’s grainy texture is the perfect ingredient to play the role of connector (not to mention fiber catalyst) in any ground turkey collaboration.

With ground turkey being super lean and quinoa being the nutrient dense super grain that it is; combining the two into one recipe and adding some veggies (and the proper seasonings of course) results in a well balanced dish-covering all of the nutritional bases in one tasty swoop!

I’ve personally put a lot of thought (and loads of taste testing) into creating a few recipes that truly highlight just how spectacular ground turkey and quinoa can be when blended.   In addition to great flavor, lean healthy characteristics and relatively easy to prepare instructions, these recipes are perfect for the make now, eat later mindset that has pretty much taken over our culture thanks to the spread of COVID-19.  Although hoarding tons of food has been deemed unnecessary for self-quarantining during this pandemic, it’s still comforting to have food in the freezer that can stand up to long term preservation (and still taste great)…the recipes I came up with can and will do exactly that!

Having to shelter in place is the perfect reason to tighten up your cooking skills and  I’d love for you to try my creations to get some practice!  Try them and please let me know how they turned out!  Be safe, stay healthy and STAY INSIDE!!

Quinoa & ground turkey taco bake

Ingredients

1 lb lean ground turkey breast

½ lb cherry tomatoes cut into halves

2 sliced jalapenos

2 shallots minced

2 cups cooked quinoa

2 tbsps shredded carrot

½ cup shredded kale

Splash of apple cider vinegar

½ cup tomato sauce

shredded vegan cheese optional

chopped parsley for garnish

Cooking Instructions

Sauté jalapenos and shallots in a deep skillet.  Once shallots are sweated and peppers begin to caramelize, add ground turkey to pan and scramble mixture until turkey is cooked through.  Add kale, carrots, tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar and seasonings and let simmer for another 4-5 minutes then remove from heat.  While turkey is cooking, prepare quinoa according to instructions.

Once quinoa is cooked, mix in with turkey, add cherry tomatoes (and top with vegan cheese shreds if you’re adding the).  Bake at 425 for 25 minutes.

Remove from heat, top with squeeze of fresh lemon and chopped parsley.  Serve with sliced avocado.

Green Goddess Meatballs in Spicy Pesto Verde

For the Spicy Pesto Verde Sauce
Ingredients

1 large bunch of Lacinato kale, rinsed and finely chopped

1-3 green peppers (2-3 jalapeños for med/hot, 2 serrano chilis for hot, 1 habanero pepper for REALLY HOT)

1 tablespoon fresh dill

1.2 cup chopped fresh basil

½ cup fresh lemon juice

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

2 tsps nutritional yeast flakes

2 tsps lemon pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Purée ingredients in a food processor or mini chopper.  Add purée to a medium saucepan and let simmer on medium-low heat for 20-30 mins.

For the meatballs

Ingredients

½ cup Lacinato kale, rinsed and finely chopped

1 shallot chopped

1 small jalapeño chopped

1 lb ground turkey breast

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/2  teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

½ teaspoon each dried parsley, ground cumin, ground fennel

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet.  Add kale, shallots and jalapeño and sauté over medium heat for 5 mins.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Season ground turkey with spices, add room temperature vegetable blend and cooked quinoa and mix to combine.

Heat 2 tsps of olive oil in the same skillet, form ground turkey into 2 inch meatballs (by hand or with a scooper) and place into skillet. Brown meatballs on med-high heat for 3 mins each side.

Transfer meatballs to a baking dish, pour the pesto sauce over the meatballs and bake on 425 for 30 mins.  Serve with zoodles.

Turkey Gumbo meatballs

For the gumbo sauce

Ingredients

1 16 oz can Organic diced tomatoes

½ cup low sodium vegetable stock

2 oz Worcestershire sauce

Splash of balsamic vinegar

1 minced white onion

1 tsp celery powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1 medium jalapeno diced

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper optional

1 tsp olive oil

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan then add onions and jalapenos.  sauté until onions are translucent and peppers begin to caramelize then add tomatoes, stock, liquid ingredients and spices.  Let mixture simmer on medium heat for 30-40 minutes.

For the meatballs

Ingredients

1 lb Ground turkey

2 tsps minced shallots

1 cup cooked Quinoa

1 tsp chopped parsley

1 tsp red chili flakes

1 tsp Lemon pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsps and 1 tsp of olive oil

Instructions

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large skillet.  Add spinach, shallots and chopped parsley and sauté over medium heat for 5 mins.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Season ground turkey with spices, add room temperature vegetable blend and cooked quinoa then blend mixture well to combine.

Heat 2 tsps of olive oil in the same skillet, form ground turkey into 2 inch meatballs (by hand or with a scooper) and place into skillet. Brown meatballs on med-high heat for 3 mins each side.

Transfer meatballs to a baking dish, pour the gumbo sauce over the meatballs and bake on 425 for 30 mins.  Serve with your favorite vegetable spirals or roasted white yams.

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