Weekly Winner: A New Take on Spaghetti & Meatballs – Thai-style

thai turkey meatballWho doesn’t love a bowl of noodles and meatballs?  Regardless of the particular ingredients it is approachable, familiar comfort food at its best.  But when you can take an old standard such as spaghetti and meatballs and not only lighten in up, but spice it up and put a Thai-style spin on it, sign me up!

Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Broth and Noodles comes from Epicurious and was the perfect dinner on a chilly, rainy spring evening. The original recipe calls for snap peas, but required such a small amount that I did not want to get them just for this recipe so I substituted frozen edamame.

There are a lot of separate steps in this dish, but it’s all easy and comes together quickly.  The only downside is dirtying up a few extra bowls but the coziness factor of this dish definitely makes up for it.

Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Broth and Noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the meatballs and noodles:

  •  1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  •  6 oz sugar snap peas, strings removed [or frozen edamame]
  •  1 medium red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, sliced into 1/4″ thick strips
  • 4 oz dried rice noodles, such as pad Thai noodles
  • 2 tsp virgin coconut oil [insert my eye roll here] or grape seed oil

For the broth:

  •  1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil [again, insert my eye roll here] or grape seed oil
  •  2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1-1/2 tsp. finely grated peeled ginger
  •  1-1/2 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
  •  1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  •  2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  •  1 tsp soy sauce
  •  3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup Thai red curry paste [I used about 2/3 this much to control heat]
  •  Lime wedges, chopped peanuts, basil leaves for garnish

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet or 13×9 glass or metal baking dish with parchment.
  2. Beat egg in a large bowl with a fork. Add turkey, panko, scallion, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, and 1/2 tsp salt and stir well to combine.  Using your hands, roll mixture into 1″ balls, packing firmly (you should have about 25).  Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
  3. Roast meatballs, turning once halfway through, until firm and cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meatball registers 165F, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook snap peas (or edamame) and bell pepper in a medium pot of boiling, well-salted water for 2 minutes.  Transfer to a colander with a spider, slotted spoon, or tongs, reserving water in pot.  Transfer to a medium bowl.  Return water to a boil and cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain noodles , then transfer to a large bowl and toss with oil.
  5. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Add coconut milk, curry paste, broth, lime juice, soy sauce and salt.  Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  6. Divide noodles among bowls, ladle broth over and top with meatballs and vegetables.

Weekly Winner:  Pure Invigoration … and drop dead gorgeous!

Sometimes you just need a break.  As good as all the summer grilled meats, potato salads, hot dogs and ice cream treats are (and I don’t regret one of them) you need to cut through all that richness occasionally and just lighten up.  And when the salad is as beautiful as this one and makes you feel incredibly good both while eating it and afterwards, you’ve got yourself one heck of a Weekly Winner.

Rice Noodle Salad with Avocado, Mango, and Chile is that dish. It’s the one I’m going to start craving when I’ve overdone it a bit. It’s amazingly refreshing and the chile gives just the perfect kick. The recipe, which comes from Fine Cooking is so easy that literally, if you can boil water, you can make it.  So no excuses….make this dish!

Rice Noodle Salad with Avocado, Mango, and Chile

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup mirin

4 tsp Asian toasted sesame oil

2 tsp minced fresh Thai bird chile or similar

8 oz rice noodles (not vermicelli)

2 firm-ripe Hass avocados, diced

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced

2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil; more for garnish

1/3 cup salted dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Procedure:

  • In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lime juice, mirin, sesame oil, chile and 1 tsp salt
  • Prepare the noodles according to package directions, drain, and rinse with cold water.
  • In a medium bowl, gently toss the avocados, mango, and basil with enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly.  In a large bowl, toss the noodles with enough of the remaining vinaigrette to moisten well.
  • Serve the noodles topped with the avocado mixture, peanuts, and basil.  Pass the lime wedges and any remaining vinaigrette at the table.

Weekly Winner:  Brightening up Beef Ragu – Thai Style

Beef Ragu is generally big, bold, rich, and definitely Italian.  It is usually a slow-cooked sauce of decadent beef loaded onto a pile of perfect pasta. Nothing wrong with that in the least! As a matter of fact it is one of my all time favorites.  Until of course you are cooking dinner for someone who is avoiding gluten.  That is when things get a bit challenging for me.  Until now. Enter Thai Ragu with Rice Vermicelli.

This was a light (no, really!) bright and zesty dinner that definitely had me re-think ragu.  And, it was done in a flash which gave me lots of time to visit with my dinner guest.  This recipe comes from Cuisine at Home Magazine and will probably replace my Thai Beef and Basil recipe that I’ve made a bunch of times, I think this is just an all-around better recipe.

Thai Ragu with Rice Vermicelli

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 oz dry rice vermicelli

2 Tbsp peanut oil

1 cup diced shallots

2 Tbsp each minced fresh ginger and garlic

1-2 tsp purchased red curry paste

1 lb ground sirloin

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 Tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp light brown sugar

1 cup each torn fresh Thai basil and mint leaves

Chopped dry-roasted peanuts for garnish

Procedure:

  1. Prepare vermicelli according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water
  2. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium.  Add shallots, garlic and ginger; cook until shallots are translucent, 3-4 minutes.  Stir in curry paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add ground sirloin; cook until browned, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.
  4. Whisk together broth, fish sauce, and brown sugar until brown sugar is dissolved; stir into ground sirloin mixture and bring to a simmer.  Cook ragu until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  5. Serve ragu over vermicelli and top servings with basil, mint and peanuts.