Recipes You Haven't Seen: Spaghetti Squash, Turkey, and Kale Sautee

Has your doctor told you to eat more veggies? Want a healthy alternative to pasta, maybe something with a unique blend of flavors that takes you in a new culinary direction? Kitchenette's got you covered with our Spaghetti Squash, Turkey, and Kale Sautee.

For real, though, I'm basically the world's biggest carnivore, and this is one of the best things I've ever eaten. Getting me to eat, let alone enjoy, a primarily vegetable-based dish (there's far more spaghetti squash in this than there is anything else) is such an achievement that I'm wondering if my girlfriend shouldn't try to find work as a diplomatic envoy with the goal of achieving a lasting peace in the Middle East. Anyway, let's get to it.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 whole spaghetti squash
  2. 1/2 lb - 1 lb ground turkey
  3. Large bunch of kale – rinsed and finely chopped
  4. 3-5 garlic cloves – minced
  5. Olive oil
  6. Oregano
  7. Salt
  8. Pepper
  9. Juice of half a lemon
  10. 1/2-1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (please for the love of all things delicious do not use the stuff in a shaker)

Tools:

  1. Oven
  2. Baking dish
  3. Stove
  4. Large skillet (cast-iron, for preference)
  5. Large knife
  6. Spatula or other stirring implement
  7. Small knife (to mince the garlic)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, or 47,519,823 kilohectares, if you're using some weird metric temperature measurement (see? I can totally Science).
  2. Cut the squash in half, lengthwise.
  3. Scoop the seeds and goopy stuff out of the center of both halves. Note: if you have never worked with a spaghetti squash, this takes a while and is a colossal pain in the ass. You have been warned.
  4. Brush both sides with olive oil and put cut side down in a baking dish.
  5. Poke each squash half with a fork half a dozen times.
  6. Bake for 30-45 minutes until you can poke a knife through the shell easily.
  7. While the squash is baking, heat up several tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat on the stove.
  8. Add garlic and cook until golden and tender. Garlic is relatively easy to burn, so pay attention to both the heat and color.
  9. Add turkey and cook until browned.
  10. Add salt, pepper and oregano to taste.
  11. Add kale and a splash more olive oil, then cook until the kale is dark green and wilted. Add lemon juice.
  12. Turn heat down to medium-low.
  13. When squash is finished scrape it from the rind (careful, it will be very hot) and add it to the kale and turkey mixture.
  14. Mix everything together, add cheese and season to taste.
  15. Serves 2-4.

The key to this dish, and what makes it something you may not have seen before, is the spaghetti squash, which winds up essentially doing the work of pasta while providing a more interesting and unusual flavor (as well as cutting out everyone's favorite foe, carbs). If you've never eaten spaghetti squash before (and I hadn't, until my girlfriend introduced me to it), its consistency is very much like finely cooked and very thin spaghetti (hence the name), a lot like angel hair, only with shorter strands. In this recipe, you're using an entire spaghetti squash, and if you've never actually worked with one, they're roughly the size of a small infant, only with the heft of a bowling ball. Incidentally, look for the upcoming Kitchenette post, "Vegetable Sports: Easy Ways to Piss Off Your Girlfriend."

The other key is actually the ground turkey, an ingredient gaining ground in terms of usage, but still not super common on American tables. While you could theoretically substitute ground beef in this dish, it wouldn't work nearly as well; ground beef has a bit of an overpoweringly savory flavor, and the spaghetti squash flavor is subtle, but definitely good enough that you want to be tasting it. Turkey works so well because it acts as a sponge for the seasoning and adds just enough of a savory edge to the dish. For vegetarians, ground meat substitutes could be factored in pretty easily, such as Gimme Lean, Boca Crumbles, or Beyond Meat Ground Beef (thanks to Laura Beck for this tip) — or, of course, fried tofu.

If you have an issue with kale (some people do), you can substitute spinach without much adverse effect in taste. Be warned that this has textural consequences, though, as kale is heartier and crunchier than spinach, so the dish is going to seem a bit mushy. At that point, you might think about adding an ingredient with a bit of crunch, but not an overpowering taste (pine nuts, maybe?).

For the garlic, avoid using a garlic press — if the garlic is that small, it'll burn really easily and then you're basically hosed. You'll get much, much better results if you cut the garlic by hand with a small, sharp knife.

Another important point here is to seriously, for the love of God, use actual Parmesan. If not, skip the Parmesan entirely, but if you use the lactose equivalent of moon dust, this recipe will go horribly wrong and I will not be held responsible for the atrocity that ensues.

Have an idea for an interesting recipe you'd like to see on Kitchenette? Feel free to e-mail us at WilyUbertrout@gmail.com.

Image via honobono/Shutterstock.