Pasta has answered the call for generations of cooks in need of a simple, speedy main dish. I love pasta as much as the next person, but sometimes you want something other than a plateful of starch; something with flavor, protein, and maybe even a touch of style. Turkey cutlets with tomatoes and mozzarella, a hearty turkey and spinach scramble, and a tangy-sweet saute of chicken livers with grapes each hit that nail on the head, and all clock in at 40 minutes or less.
Turkey Cutlets With Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Serves 4 (1½ cutlets per person)
This idea comes from Melissa Clark’s Dinner: Changing the Game.
Note that you’ll need a broiler-safe skillet.
|Salt and pepper|
|6||large turkey cutlets (about 1½ pounds), dried well|
|2||tablespoons olive oil, or more, if necessary|
|1||medium onion, finely chopped|
|1||tablespoon pressed garlic (about 4 or 5 medium cloves)|
|2||teaspoons minced anchovy (about 4 large fillets, preferably oil-packed)|
|1½||teaspoons dried oregano|
|¼||teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes|
|1||can (14.5-ounces) petite-diced tomatoes, drained|
|1||cup coarsely grated mozzarella|
|2||tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil|
With the rack in the upper-middle position, heat the broiler. Sprinkle the cutlets lightly with salt and pepper. In a very large broiler-safe skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 teaspoons oil until shimmering. Working in batches, add the cutlets, leaving a bit of space between them, and cook, undisturbed, until barely golden, about 1 minute. Turn and cook for another minute, then transfer to a plate. Add 2 more teaspoons oil, and repeat to cook the remaining cutlets.
Add the remaining oil to the skillet, adjust heat to medium, and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, anchovies, oregano, and red pepper flakes and continue to cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, and any accumulated juices from the turkey, adjust the heat to medium-high, and bring to a strong simmer, stirring to dissolve any fond. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Return the turkey to the pan and spoon the tomato mixture onto the cutlets. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and broil until the cheese is melted and browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Taking care with the hot skillet, sprinkle with the parsley or basil and serve at once.
San Francisco-Style Turkey and Spinach Scramble
Makes about 6 cups
This is my take on an old-time San Francisco breakfast called Joe’s Special, using turkey in place of beef, and reserving the mushrooms as a topping. For speed, use presliced mushrooms.
|1||pound frozen chopped spinach|
|3||tablespoons olive oil|
|12||ounces presliced cremini mushrooms (about 6 cups)|
|Salt and pepper|
|1½||tablespoons pressed or grated garlic (about 6 or 7 medium cloves)|
|1||medium onion, chopped|
|1||pound ground turkey|
|½||teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes|
|1||tablespoon Worcestershire sauce|
|¾||cup grated Parmesan|
|Garlic bread or toasted sourdough, for serving, optional|
Cook the spinach according to package directions. Cool and squeeze dry (see Tip).
Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms brown, about 9 minutes. Add half the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Scrape the mushrooms into a bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the eggs, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste until uniformly yellow, and set aside.
Return the skillet to medium heat, add the remaining oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the turkey and cook, stirring and breaking up any clumps, until it starts to lose its raw color, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Add the Worcestershire sauce and spinach and cook, stirring, until the turkey is fully cooked and spinach is hot, about 2 minutes longer. Add the egg mixture and, using a flexible spatula, stir and scrape the bottom of the skillet, combining the spinach mixture and eggs, until eggs have set, about 2 minutes. Off heat, add the Parmesan and ground black pepper to taste and stir to mix. Adjust the seasoning with salt and ground black pepper if necessary. Transfer to a plate and top with reserved mushrooms, and serve at once with garlic bread or toasted sourdough.
TIP: THE SPINACH SQUEEZE
Sauteed Chicken Livers With Sherry and Grapes
Use a splatter screen when cooking the livers, which can spit. Serve with barley, quinoa, or orzo.
|2||teaspoons vegetable oil|
|1||pound chicken livers, trimmed, rinsed, and dried|
|Salt and pepper|
|1||tablespoon unsalted butter|
|½||cup finely chopped shallots (about 2 medium)|
|2||teaspoons minced fresh rosemary|
|1½||teaspoons pressed or grated garlic (about 3 medium cloves)|
|¾||cup amontillado sherry|
|½||cup low-sodium chicken broth|
|1½||cups seedless green grapes, halved lengthwise, or quartered if large (about 9 ounces)|
|½||teaspoon sherry vinegar|
|¼||cup chopped fresh parsley|
In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Sprinkle the livers with salt and pepper and cook, undisturbed, until bottoms are golden, about 2½ minutes. Turn and cook until second sides are light golden, about 2 minutes longer. Do not overcook — the livers should remain rosy inside. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Wipe out the skillet, return it to medium heat, and add the butter. Add the shallots, rosemary, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until shallots soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer. Add the sherry, adjust the heat to medium-high, and simmer, stirring, until reduced slightly and thickened, about 2 minutes longer. Add the broth and continue to cook, stirring, until slightly reduced, about 1½ minutes longer. Add the grapes and continue to cook, stirring, until they are heated through, about 1½ minutes longer. Adjust heat to low, add the honey, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste, and stir to incorporate the honey. Add the chicken livers (without their accumulated juices) and stir gently to mix and reheat the livers, about 1 minute. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Add most of the parsley and stir. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve at once.Adam Ried appears regularly on America’s Test Kitchen. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.