A few weeks ago, I told my family I would cook dinner, a promise I promptly forgot about until it was dinnertime. Picking out some stray autumn ingredients from the empty refrigerator, smelling my way through the spice drawer, and letting my hunger guide me, I set to work. A surprisingly easy thirty minutes later, I had a healthy, home-cooked meal ready for dinner, with enough to spare for the next day as well! Simple and flavorful, this handy blend of seasonal ingredients and autumnal spices is perfect for shared meals or meal-prepping!

Makes 2-3 servings.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash (either 1 whole squash, or a pre-cut package)
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 package of ground turkey (1lb.)
  • Small handful of baby carrots (optional)
  • Olive oil (or other neutral oil or butter)
  • * ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper
  • * 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • * 1 teaspoon garlic powder or 3-4 cloves of minced garlic
  • * 1 teaspoon cumin
  • * 2 large pinches of dried thyme
  • * ¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • A sprinkle of feta cheese, to taste
  • Pasta or other grain (optional)

Notes: 

  • Turkey is notorious for tasting bland, but when properly seasoned, is a flavorful, healthy meat! You could also substitute a different meat, tofu, or leave out the meat entirely for a quick sautéd vegetable medley.  
  • Turmeric adds a slight yellow color and peppery taste, but don’t worry if you don’t have any!
  • The spice measurements are approximate, as I am a firm believer in flavoring food to suit your own taste. Feel free to adjust the seasonings!

Tools Needed:

  • Multi-use chef knife
  • Measuring spoons
  • Small bowl
  • Cutting board
  • Small or medium saucepan (for pasta, optional)
  • Medium frying pan (for everything else)

Toni Shindler-Ruberg / Daily Nexus

Directions:

  1. Wash the vegetables. Cube butternut squash and carrots (if using) into bite-size pieces. Slice the zucchini into discs, before cutting them into quarters. 
  2. Mix the spices in a small bowl. 
  3. If making pasta, set up a small pot to boil. 
  4. Add (amount) of oil to the pan and heat gently, stirring for about 30 seconds. Add the ground turkey, sprinkle about ¾ of the spice mixture on top and cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, or until most of the pink has disappeared. Remove the turkey from the pan. 
  5. If making pasta, add the pasta once the water has boiled. Boil the pasta for about 9-10 minutes as you continue cooking the vegetables. 
  6. Add squash and zucchini to the pan, along with the rest of the spice mixture. Stir occasionally until tender, about 5 minutes. Return the turkey to the pan with the vegetables, for another 5 minutes, or until the turkey is completely white and beginning to brown slightly. 
  7. By now, your pasta should be ready to drain. Prepare a serving of pasta and add the vegetable/turkey mixture. Sprinkle some feta cheese on top and serve!

Although I stumbled upon this meal rather accidentally, it’s quickly become one of my favorite recipes to prepare and I hope it becomes one of yours. Following this general method and substituting different ingredients leads to countless options!

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