Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Penne with Saffron Infused Vegetables & Turkey

This is a hearty pasta dish I modified from one I saw on one of my favorite cooking shows. I used whole wheat pasta for extra fiber and protein. The seasonings are delicious and really resemble a sausage flavor without the sausage. My hubby suggested I call this one, "I can't believe it's not sausage". The "sauce" is one you create, not from a jar, and part of the layering of flavor comes from infusing some stock with Saffron. Don't skip this step as it really makes the whole dish. Enjoy!

Recipe: (Serves 4)
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
big pinch of saffron threads (about 24 threads)
1 medium size firm eggplant, diced very finely into cubes
2 small zucchini, diced very finely into cubes
2 medium garden fresh tomatoes, diced finely into cubes
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped, or 1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fat free milk
1 pound short-cut pasta, whatever shape you like
Parmesan cheese for garnish
fresh basil for garnish, julienned

1. Infuse your broth with the saffron; pour 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock and saffron threads in a small pot. Bring to a simmer to infuse and concentrate the flavor. (It will turn a beautiful deep orange color)

2. Meanwhile, peel the skin off the eggplant. Dice very finely into 1/8-inch pieces. Sprinkle with salt and reserve.

3. Place a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta.

4. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add the turkey and lightly brown while finely crumbling it into small bits with a wooden spoon. Season with Italian Seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, thyme and chili pepper flakes.

5. Squeeze any liquid from the eggplant, then stir it into the turkey. Add zucchini and tomatoes. Cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently until the vegetables are tender. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup chicken stock, stir a minute then add the reduced saffron-infused stock, about 1 cup. Stir in the milk and simmer over low heat while the pasta cooks.

6. Cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup starchy cooking liquid, then drain and toss the pasta with the sauce, adding the liquid as necessary to combine. Toss for 1-2 minutes. Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and some fresh basil for garnish.

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