Thursday, May 13, 2010

Turkey and Fennel Tomato Sauce

For my nutrition class, I had to find two recipes that were relatively high in sodium and find creative ways to redo them to reduce the sodium content. One of the recipes I chose was a meatloaf that combined ground beef with Italian sausage. Since most sausages contain a lot of sodium, I chose to substitute a mixture of ground turkey (also lower in fat) and Italian seasonings to mimic the taste of the sausage but in a healthier version. Oregano and garlic both give an Italian flavor to the meat and fennel seed adds another depth of flavor and is often used in sausage. The sauce I made tonight was loosely inspired by this nutrition assignment and, although it didn't taste like sausage, it made for a great pasta sauce. The fresh fennel adds a touch of sweetness to the sauce as cooked fennel is much milder than raw fennel, which can taste like licorice. I used all white meat ground turkey, which can get a little dry so 7% fat would also work well as would lean ground beef or bison. I served the sauce over whole wheat penne but any pasta would do. If you haven't cooked with fennel before, I definitely recommend this as a good place to start. It is very mild when cooked and blends in well with the meat and tomatoes.

Turkey and Fennel Tomato Sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, small dice
  • 1/2 fennel bulb
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound pasta
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet with straight sides.
To prepare the fennel, first cut off the green stalks, then cut the fennel bulb in half from top to bottom. Reserve one half for another use.
Cut the remaining half in half again, from top to bottom. Cut out the tough core.
Thinly slice the fennel into strips.
Saute the onion, garlic and fennel in the hot oil till they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the ground turkey, breaking up into small bits.
Season the mixture with the red pepper flakes, oregano, nutmeg and salt and pepper.
Stir to combine and cook till the meat is almost fully cooked.
Add both cans of tomatoes and cook till heated through. Season to taste.
Serve over hot pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

For a printable recipe click here

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