Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Browned Turkey And Spinach Lasagna

It feels like ages since I blogged even though it was only couple of weeks.  Busy schedules and work are taking a toll on blogging these days and I hope I am not disappointing my readers too much.  Recently few of my friends reminded me about my absence in the blog which made me revive this recipe from my draft.  It’s a blessing to be surrounded by people who cares, encourages, motivates and inspire you in many ways. 

Last year I was able to pull few of my family members from their comfort zone and had them participate in the 5k run.  This year none of them were able to participate in the run due to a pre-committed engagement.  But we had another group to compensate.  Few of my friends decided to participate.  You can imagine how fun it is to have a girl’s day out.  Each one of us  thoroughly enjoyed the practice runs, the girl talks and some goof ups and silliness we shared during these days.  It reminded us of college days.  The beautiful scenic view near the lake uplifted the spirit of the run. The scattered rain before the event tempted us to act silly by making our own blue fancy looking trash bag ponchos.  We were little embarrassed to wear it at the beginning, but then we saw lot of people around us in black trash bags..lol,  which soon made us realize that we were part of the herd :).  It was a fun filled morning.  The great achievement was that we did better than our practice run on the day of the event.  We hope that we can motivate many more around us!

Today's recipe is a delicious Lasagna with browned turkey and spinach.  The perfectly seasoned browned turkey is something that tempts me to snack on it while preparing the rest of the ingredients for Lasagna.  Trust me, you will end up gobbling a handful of browned turkey before layering into the Lasagna.  Its that good.  So please try this recipe and let me know how it turns out for you.

2 lbs - ground turkey
2 big cloves - garlic minced
1 tsp. - olive oil
1/2 tsp - ground black pepper
salt to taste

2 cups - thick tomato sauce
1 tsp - Italian seasoning
1 clove - garlic crushed
1 tsp - olive oil

1 - egg
16 oz - Ricotta cheese
1 cup - tightly packed fresh baby spinach chopped
1/2 tsp - salt
1/2 tsp - black pepper powder

12 - Lasagna noodles 
1 cup - shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup - shredded Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp - chopped fresh basil leaves


  • Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a cast iron or non-stick pan and roast the minced garlic till golden brown.  Add the ground turkey, salt and pepper and cook till it is browned.  Keep the cooked turkey aside.
  • While turkey is cooking, you can make the filling by mixing egg, ricotta cheese, chopped spinach, salt and pepper.
  • Take a sauce pan and roast the crushed garlic in 1 tsp of olive oil.  Add the tomato sauce and Italian seasoning.  Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the cooked meat to it and turn off the flame.
  • Cook the Lasagna noodles according to the package direction and drain.
  • Pre-heat oven to 375°F and grease a baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Spread 1/2 cup of sauce and meat mix in the baking dish.  Arrange 4 noodles over the sauce. Spread half of the ricotta spinach filling on the noodles.  Top with 3/4 cup of Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese mix.  Spread 1/2 cup of sauce and meat mix.  Top it again with 4 noodles.  Repeat the layering and finally top the last set of noodles with meat sauce and rest of the cheese mix.  Cover with an aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes or till the cheese melts completely and the top gets golden brown.
  • Let the Lasagna cool for 15 minutes.  Garnish with chopped basil before serving.  
  • You can set the Lasagna a day before and refrigerate it till ready to bake.
  • Use a thick tomato sauce to get a nice textured lasagna, otherwise the sauce will be too watery and the Lasagna will not set properly.
  • You can use any meat of your choice in the Lasagna.  Lightly browned meat  with proper seasoning adds more flavor to the Lasagna.  Cast iron pan works better for browning the meat.  Make sure to cook on low heat without burning.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Broccoli Stir Fry - Broccoli Mezhukkupuratti

A simple vegetable stir fry with the side of fish curry and rice was a common affair in my house during lunch.  Most of the time this vegetable comes from my Mom's kitchen garden or sometimes from my grandparents' house.  The freshly picked vegetable made all the difference in a simple stir fry.  I remember the ivy gourd plant that climbed the curry leaf tree in my grandparents' house.  The huge curry leaf tree and the ivy gourd plant jelled together as if they were grafted together.  It was a one stop spot for our neighbors and for us to get ivy gourd and curry leaves.  Ivy gourd stir fry was so common in our lunch box those days and I always had a special liking for it.  Later that curry leaf tree was chopped when the house was renovated :(.

Following the tradition, I always find it easy to include a vegetable with a Keralite meal in the form of stir fry/mezhukkupuratti.  There are some vegetable my kids love, no matter how you cook it.  One among them in Broccoli.  So transforming the super healthy Broccoli to an Indian style stir fry is a simple trick I follow to make my job easier and make the kids happy.  This is my Mom's recipe and the only alteration I made to the recipe is the addition of some curry leaves to give more Keralite flavor.  You can skip the curry leaf if you cannot find it.  But this is a simple, healthy and delicious stir fry that any novice cook can try.

Here are some health benefits of Broccoli:

  • Broccoli is rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients, antioxidant nutrients, detox-support nutrients and anti-cancer nutrients.
  • The high fiber content in Broccoli provides excellent digestive support to the body.
  • The anti-inflammatory properties of Sulforaphane found in Broccoli provides Cardiovascular support and lowers cholesterol.
  • They also provide eye and skin health.
  • The Vitamin K and Vitamin A rich vegetable aids the metabolism of Vitamin D.

3 cups - Broccoli Florets
1/2 - red onion thinly sliced
4 - green chili slits
1/4 tsp - black mustard seeds
1 sprig - fresh curry leaves
1 clove - garlic thinly sliced
2 tbsp - oil
salt to taste
1/2 tsp - extra virgin coconut oil to garnish

  • Wash the broccoli florets; strain and separate into small florets.
  • Heat a cast iron or non-stick pan.  Splutter 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds in 2 tbsp of oil.  Add the garlic and onions and saute for 30 seconds.  Then add the broccoli and green chili.  Sprinkle salt and mix well.  Cover with a lid and turn the heat to medium.  Cook for 2 minutes. Remove the lid and mix.  Cover and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove the lid; add the curry leaves and mix well and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the coconut oil and turn off the flame.
  • Enjoy the broccoli stir fry with plain steamed rice or Indian flat bread like Roti or Chapathi.
  • Over cooking the broccoli will lose its color and nutrition. So make sure you don't cook it over 5-6 minutes.
  • Using a cast iron pan provides uniform heat and helps the broccoli to cook faster.

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