Sunday Garden Update: Turkey Lentil Pilaf

Let’s take a stroll to see what’s going on in the garden, shall we?

Garden shot with newly planted thyme, chili peppers, tomatoes, and spicy globe basil
Blueberry blooms currently look like small green berries…
…but I am encouraged because there are a lot of them!
Strawberries like full sun. Unfortunately I don’t have a good all-day, full-sun spot, so when I am home I move them around the house following the sun.

We have had a busy weekend filled with traveling: Alex’s younger sister’s college graduation and visiting my parents for Mother’s Day. On those busy kinds of weekends filled with rich foods, it’s nice to make something healthy and comforting that fits in one bowl that can be eaten while curled up on the couch. That’s why I made this turkey lentil pilaf today. The somewhat surprising key ingredients? Cinnamon and fresh mint.

Turkey Lentil Pilaf (adapted from Simply in Season by Cathleen Hockman-Wert and Mary Beth Lind)
Yum Factor: Alex – 7.8, Jessalyn – 7

– 1 pound ground turkey thigh
1. Cook in large skillet over medium heat until cooked though. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

– 1/2 onion, chopped
– 3 garlic cloves, minced
2. Add to turkey and stir, cooking until softened (about 5 minutes). 

– handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
– 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3. Add to turkey/onion mixture and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

The surprising addition of both a warming ingredient (cinnamon) and a cooling ingredient (mint) gives this dish a unique Middle Eastern flavor

– 1 cup lentils, rinsed and drained (I used French green lentils, I think)
– 3/4 cup brown rice
– 2 cups chicken broth
– 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
4. Add to pot. Stir thoroughly and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer until the rice is cooked through, about 45 minutes. I recommend lifting the lid and stirring everything about after 20 or 30 minutes to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

At first it looks sort of like tomato soup with chunks of meat
…but once it’s cooked you have a comforting, hearty meal.

Serve warm with choice of garnish.

Garnish options: chopped mint, sliced green onions, diced preserved lemons, local salty queso blanco (feta would also work well)

Overall, we really enjoyed this dish. It seemed to rejuvenate us after a long weekend and perhaps somewhat contributed to our ability to accomplish a few chores around the house. It sort of had the consistency of a pot of chili, and was certainly as hearty. To that end, if the cinnamon flavor confuses you or you don’t have any mint around, I think you could substitute parsley and your favorite chili powder for a more familiar flavor. You might also save time by using leftover poultry (doesn’t have to be turkey) and pre-cooked rice that you just fold in at the end of the cooking time.

Certainly, too, you could adapt this recipe for all seasons; this version is particularly suited to spring because of the mint.

I know we usually talk about comfort foods in winter, but what do you turn to for comfort in the spring? (doesn’t have to be food–maybe it’s something you like to do outdoors? or a certain smell? or a poem or TV show perhaps?) What adaptations might you make to this recipe to make it your own? Give it a try and let us know what you think. 


One thought on “Sunday Garden Update: Turkey Lentil Pilaf

  1. Harris says:

    Very nice plating. Looks deelish!

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