If you’re a dietitian who loves to cook, and lives in an “average” sized NYC apartment (we’re talkin’ no more than 600 square feet), I’m sure you feel my pain when it comes to kitchen space. When you only have 4 cabinets and 2 drawers, with about a 3 feet long by 1 foot wide counter work space, you learn how to minimize and become quite efficient. Many of my kitchen tools are collapsible (strainers, prep bowls, and yes, even my salad spinner folds into itself), it takes me about 3 minutes to pull out pans and cookie sheets before getting to the crockpot, and my larger appliances don’t even get to live in the kitchen- the large Cuisinart food processor sits in its box in the dining area. Let’s just say, of gadgets I have few. Rather my kitchen serves a practical purpose, and there’s some tools I just can’t do without.
One of my favorite tools is another “homeless” kitchen item that sits among a collection right on my stovetop- my humble cast iron pans. I fell in love with these babies a few years ago when my mom started cooking everything from bacon and eggs, to griddling sandwiches or baking dinners in them. The fact that they can safely be thrown into hot ovens, and require little cleaning- in fact, the less cleaning and more “seasoning” you give them the better- makes them my most prized possession.
January’s Recipe Redux Theme is “Favorite Kitchen Tool”, asking us bloggers to showcase a healthy recipe using a new gadget received over the holidays or highlighting a favorite kitchen standby. For me, consider this month’s post an ode to the magnificent cast iron skillet.
Nights after work have been filled with workouts and webinars, so pulling together a quick dinner with minimal clean-up has been key. Mr. CN has requested dinners on the “clean” side this week after a weekend in the Catskills with friends where an abundant number of homemade baked breads, cakes, and hard ciders were consumed. I was happy to oblidge and knew just what to make using the spaghetti squash I had picked up earlier this week.
Spaghetti squash is a great low-carbohydrate alternative to noodles and doesn’t have a strong squash flavor so can be adapted to many styles of cuisine. This recipe is going healthy Italian by using ground turkey, simple tomato sauce, spinach, and lots of seasoning to keep things low in sodium. And when I say cast-iron I mean it; here I actually used two cast iron skillets- a large one to roast the squash in (I’m serious, I didn’t even want to wash a baking sheet!) and a medium sized one to bake the final dish in.
How do you like to use your cast iron?
Cast Iron Spaghetti Squash Bake- serves 2
- 1 medium size spaghetti squash
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 medium red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 lb. ground turkey
- 1 1/2 cups plain canned tomato sauce
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- pinch of red pepper flake
- 3 handfuls of baby spinach
- 1 cup grated mozzarella
- grated parmesan to finish
- salt to taste
- Prepare the spaghetti squash. Slice in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds with a spoon and compost. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil on the insides of the squash and lay face down in a cast iron skillet (or on a baking sheet). Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, or until able to pierce the outer skin easily with a fork. Remove from oven, let cool, and once cool enough to handle use a fork to create spaghetti strands from the flesh of the squash. Reserve squash in a separate bowl.
- In a medium cast iron skillet, add olive oil and saute onion and bell pepper for 5 minutes until they start to soften. Then add garlic and red pepper flake, cook for 1 minute. Add ground turkey to skillet and begin to break apart into crumbles. As turkey is cooking and becoming less pink, add oregano and basil, mixing everything to combine.
- Once turkey is fully cooked, add tomato sauce, handfuls of raw spinach, and about half of the reserved spaghetti squash to the skillet mixture. Turn off the heat. Using tongs or a large mixing spoon, combine all ingredients together. You want the spinach to start wilting, and the tomato sauce to cover the squash, turkey and other ingredients evenly. Feel free to add more sauce if you like things on the saucier side. Taste for salt and adjust according to your tastes.
- Create an even layer of the mixture in the skillet. Top with grated mozzarella and bake in the oven at 400 degress for 10 minutes. Finally, place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until cheese becomes browned and edges of the bake start to look a little crispy. Remove from broiler and top with fresh grated parmesan before serving.
For a peek at other dietitians’ favorite kitchen gadgets, take a look at this month’s Recipe Redux entries through the link below!