Friday, May 4

Easy Egg-Free Turkey Loaf

It's finally the month of May! I love May, I always have. It's my birthday month, it's my second birthday [liver transplant] month, and now I get to celebrate Mother's Day in May too! And I remember as a kid, knowing when May rolled around that the sun was going to return to the Northwest and the school year was winding down. Happy thoughts!
But apparently the sun didn't get the memo this year... We have been having a terrible run of rain, wind, and COLD weather here. It's been a little disappointing. One of our local farmers' markets opened yesterday, and I kept looking out the window thinking of those poor vendors in the blustery cold wet street. Come on, spring, we need ya!
Anyway, this weather has called for some comfort food. I made a simple turkey loaf (egg-free!) the other day that has flavors hinting at Thanksgiving. Ironically, as soon as it was out of the oven the sun came out for a bit. That made me see that while this dish is hearty enough to be satisfying and warming, it is light enough for a picnic lunch in the spring and summer time.
Enjoy slices hot or cold, with a salad and sweet potato fries on the side. Yum!

Easy Egg-Free Turkey Loaf

What you need:
1+ pound 99% lean ground turkey breast*
2 leeks, white parts only (save green parts for making stock)
2-4 celery stalks, ends cut off (save leaves and ends for stock)
dried marjoram
ground sage
dried thyme
fresh ground black pepper
sea salt

*I suggest Trader Joe's brand. It tastes great and has NO additives. Be very careful when buying pre-ground meats; I've noticed many brands have "natural flavorings" listed in tiny print on the label, and that often means they have GLUTEN and other icky stuff!

What you do:
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Get out your favorite (smallish) loaf pan - I used my glass Pyrex 8.5x5.

Wash and trim your celery ribs and leeks. Slice the leek whites into small 1-2" sections. Do the same with the celery ribs. Put sections into food processor and pulse until minced and mixed together. If you don't have a food processor, simply mince by hand. Transfer minced veg into a large mixing bowl.

Grab your spices and start adding them in the mixing bowl. You guys know, I am not a stickler for precise measurements; I believe you should adjust seasonings to your own tastes and experiment - it builds confidence in the kitchen. You won't mess it up, because every time you cook it's a learning experience!
But to give you an idea, I'd say I added approximately 1/2 tablespoon each of marjoram, thyme, and sage, and about four turns of the pepper mill and a pinch of sea salt.
Note: When you add the marjoram and thyme, scoop the leaves into one palm and rub your palms together over the bowl. This releases the flavors.
Give everything in the bowl a good stir to blend.

For this next step, you'll want to remove any rings and bracelets you are wearing. Unwrap your ground turkey and transfer it to the mixing bowl. With both hands, start blending the turkey, minced leek and celery, and spices. Knead and mash it together gently until the turkey seems evenly seasoned.

Transfer the turkey to your loaf pan. Gently press it down to make the top surface flat - there is your turkey loaf! Put the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes; check; continue to bake for 10-15 more minutes as needed.* It is done when the top is starting to brown and the juices are running clear. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

*Note: Because I used a glass loaf pan, which conducts heat differently than metal, if you are using a metal pan your baking time will probably differ. When you make this for the first time, you'll want to stick nearby the kitchen and keep an eye on the loaf to assure it doesn't over cook.

Other Suggestions: This dish is perfect as one of those "cleaning out the refrigerator" recipes because you can add a variety of vegetables and seasonings to take it in different flavor directions...
  • To enhance the Thanksgiving flavors, add some small dice of butternut squash or sweet potatoes and top with turkey gravy (homemade turkey stock + coconut flour)
  • If you can tolerate nightshades, perhaps try an Italian version with minced bell peppers, small dice eggplant, shredded zucchini and Italian seasoning, with homemade Marinara tomato sauce
  • Pesto version with pureed basil, garlic, chopped pine nuts and olive oil
  • The possibilities are endless... What ideas do YOU have? Please share :)