a pearfect ten.

It’s a gorgeous day.  The sun is shining and wonderful breezes keep making the yellowy-green leaves on the trees dance.  It feels like- dare I say it?- the beginnings of fall.  And, while I will hang on to my sundresses, flip flops, and tomatoes

as long as humanly possible, I understand that time waits for no one.  This summer has flown by with a speed that I’ve never experienced before.  Maybe it’s because I’m getting older.  I know more people, have more responsibilities, pack more into every 24 hours…  This past weekend, I had a date night with my honey, made a trip to the Shakespeare Tavern to see an amazing show with friends, dropped by my favorite Farmers Market to grab big boxes of CSA goodies, celebrated a close girlfriend’s’ birthday over a quaint brunch at a local French Cafe, and fell in love with a new band while inventing our most recent Sunday Supper.

My business has been keeping me in my apron for the better part of most weekdays.  (Good thing I have cute aprons!)  I’ve been completely inspired and cooking up a storm with the freshest seasonal ingredients, and I’ve gotten the most amazing feedback from clients lately.  It fills me with pride to know that I am improving the quality of life for a small handful of folks in my community.  Here’s one great report I received after a new client’s first week of meals:

“I just wanted to give you an update.  I prepared all the meals and was really pleased with how easy and tasty everything is.  I particularly loved the turkey burgers…YUM!.  [My daughter] loved your tomato sauce and chicken (she is taking a drumstick for lunch).  You know,  I realized I had never made spaghetti squash before and it was super easy and very tasty.  Thanks again and I can’t wait to see what next week holds. – N

P.S.  I cooked everything by last night and now I will eat the remaining for lunch and a few dinners.   It is the first time in weeks that I do not have a ton of veggies left or food.  I have all our lunches packed for the next couple of days and I am excited that dinner is already ready!”

Woohoo!!  Making people feel less stressed, more prepared, healthier and happier was my mission when starting Plan to Plate, and it’s now the reality of my day-to-day life.  I am grateful.  And although it’s bittersweet to see the tomatoes, melons, zephyr squash, okra,

and other summer wonders dwindling, I am eager about the loveliness that is coming out of the ground.

Acorn squashes of many shades,

spaghetti squash and crisp bell peppers,

and butternuts!!!  (My favorite kind of squash!)  And with that, I know that I’ll be getting my hands on local kale shortly too.  The calming process of creating soups will become part of my daily rhythm again, and we’ll soon be full-fledged into apple picking.  And I get to share it all with you.

This week’s meal is sort of an “in-between” summer and fall treat.

I give you Pear-rific Turkey Meatloaf with Hasselhoff Potatoes and Arugula and Apple Salad.

Traditional meatloaf is known to have ground beef, breadcrumbs, onions, eggs, and ketchup, among other things.  I assume that at this point in our relationship, you’d be shocked if Adam and I went strictly traditional.  As is par for our course, we retained some of that original charm, but added our own special twists.

Pear-riffic Turkey Meatloaf:

1 lb ground turkey

1 yellow onion diced

1 bell pepper, diced small

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2 Bosc pears, diced small

2 carrots, shredded

zest and of a lemon and half its juice

2 egg whites

splash of Worcestershire sauce

1 T whole grain mustard

good handful parsley, chopped

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 Cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

rounded 1/2 Cup breadcrumbs

 

We started by whipping up our own fresh breadcrumbs.  Simply set the oven to 400° and place three pieces of bread (any kind will do!) on a sheet pan.  Cook them just until they are toasty, flipping once during cooking.  It only takes a few minutes per side.

Also heading into your oven- three beautiful tomatoes and one red bell pepper.  Why, you ask?  Because I have a serious distaste for ketchup and I won’t put it on my meatloaf.  I won’t put it on anything really, except for a perfectly cooked medium rare burger.  I used to like the condiment growing up, but I think I got ketchup-ed out.  Some folks love to put ketchup on everything.  But, to me, that doesn’t make mediocre food taste better, it just makes it taste like ketchup.

Anyhoo, I prefer to create my own roasted red pepper and tomato sauce instead.

It’s fresh and much more flavorful than regular ketchup any day of the week.  So place those veggies on a sheet pan and let them roast, turning the pepper with tongs as it blackens on each side.  Cook them until the pepper is darkened all around and its skin is wrinkly- this will be about the same time you’ll see the tomato skins cracking and beginning to peel.

While the bread and tomatoes were in the oven, we began working on our potatoes.  Hasselhoff Potatoes are our version of a classic spud recipe:  HasselBack Potatoes, from Adam’s favorite cookbook, The Recipe Encyclopedia: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Cooking.  We call them Hasselhoff Potatoes in honor of the ever-quirky David Hasselhoff- AKA Michael Knight from Knight Rider.  It’s just more fun!!

Peel four white potatoes and place them in water

while you melt 1 1/2 T butter with 1 1/2 T olive oil.

Then, press in a few cloves of garlic and add a couple good pinches of salt.  Once it’s a cohesive, melty mixture, turn off the heat.  You don’t want the garlic to burn.

Remove your potatoes from the water, one or two at a time (so they don’t brown), and pat them dry.

Slice each potato in half longways.  Then, place the flat side on your cutting board and grab a chopstick or two.  Laying chopsticks in front and in back of your potato while you make your slices will prevent you from cutting the potato all the way through.  It stops your knife just in time.  If you don’t have chopsticks, cut very carefully, leaving the entire bottom of the potato in tact.  This creates that cool fan effect.

Toss your potatoes in the garlic butter mixture to coat the outside and place them on a baking dish.

Use a brush to spread the remaining goodness between all of the nooks and crannies.  Then, season well with salt and pepper all over.

Put those babies in the oven and let them cook until they are brown and crisp and dreamy.  Or- hold off until you’re ready to put the meatloaf in as well.  They will both take about an hour to cook.

Meanwhile, when our bread was out of the oven and cooled, we placed it in a food processor and whirred.

If you’re using a large food processor, you can buzz all of the pieces at once.  We were using a little guy, so, we blasted about 1 1/2 pieces at a time.

Your crumbs don’t have to be super fine.  I actually like them to still have some coarseness- but, it’s up to you how fine to grind them.

Also out of the oven were our pepper and tomatoes.  We placed our pepper in a bowl, covered with foil for about 5 minutes to make for easy peeling.  The tomatoes needed to cool down first, but their skins came off without much trouble at all.

While the tomatoes cooled, we got to chopping and sauteing our veggies over medium heat.

Of course we started by softening one yellow onion with a good drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt.

After a few minutes, we added our bell peppers and cooked them for 2 or 3 minutes.

Next, we added our pressed garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper.  After just one more minute, you can take that pan off the heat and turn the sauteed veggies out into a bowl to cool.

**Go ahead and spoon out about 2 heaping tablespoons for your roasted red pepper and tomato sauce.**

To put your sauce together, add the following to a small food processor:

3 roasted tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 roasted red pepper, peeled and chopped

2 heaping T sauteed veggie mixture (onions, peppers, garlic)

2 t brown sugar

1 T paprika

1 T red wine vinegar

good pinch of salt and pepper

Whir around until smooth.  Taste and adjust your seasoning to your liking.

To finish off your meatloaf,  chop your parsley, zest and juice your lemon,

shred your carrots, crack 2 eggs and separate the whites from the yolks, and peel and chop your pears.

Aww, those pears are making a sweet heart together!

You’ve got all the other components ready to go!  So add the whole lot of ’em to your bowl.

Bring your ground turkey to the party, along with 3 healthy pinches of salt (Think about seasoning 4 big turkey burgers.) and a generous couple grinds of fresh cracked black pepper.  Mix it all together until everything is well-incorporated, but don’t over mix.  Use your hands of course!

Spray a loaf pan with a little nonstick cooking spray, and press your meatloaf gently into the pan.

Top with a few dollops of your roasted red pepper tomato sauce,

and spread it out in an even layer.  (Be sure not to dip your spoon back into your bowl of sauce after touching the raw turkey.  You can separate some “raw friendly” sauce out into a different container if you like and use that to spread on top, keeping things super safe.  You will want extra sauce free of raw poultry to enjoy with your meatloaf later.)

Place the meatloaf in a 400° oven for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Use a meat thermometer to determine when your meat is ready.  I like to use the kind of digital thermometer that I can place in the meat and set an alarm to let me know when it’s reached my desired temperature.  Turkey is finished cooking when it reaches 160° in the middle.

Be sure to let your turkey rest for 10 – 15 minutes before slicing.  I topped mine with a little bit of fresh chopped parsley for a touch of green.

Our potatoes were crispy and delicious.

All that’s left to do is make a quick, fresh salad!

We used peppery arugula, roasted pistachios, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and a ginger gold apple- the first apples of the season!

For a super simple dressing, combine 2 parts balsamic vinegar to 3 parts olive oil in a small jar.

Add a little bit of salt and pepper and screw on the lid.  Shake for about 30 seconds.  Voila!  Just drizzle dressing sparingly over your salad and toss.  Then…time to plate!

Give yourself and your lucky guests (or lucky family) a thick slice of meatloaf, a couple Hasselhoff potatoes, and a hearty scoop of salad.

Spoon a bit more red pepper-tomato sauce over your turkey meatloaf for good measure.

And go to town!  This meal was outstanding.  I was so happy when eating it!  The turkey meatloaf was moist and full of liveliness.  Every little cube of pear brought a burst of fresh sweetness to the forefront.  The carrots, onions, and other veggies paired with that little bit of mustard, lemon, and worcestershire flavored the meat superbly.  The breadcrumbs, egg, and cheese worked in tandem to hold it all together.  The bright sauce complemented the meatloaf in a most delightful way.  Mmm, savory, sweet, slightly tangy, and earthy too.  Every bite tasted fresh and comforting.  Those potatoes crisped up perfectly on the outside, but the insides were creamy and soft.  Just right.  And the salad was a powerhouse of flavor all on its own, offering a peppery, bitterness from the arugula, a slight sweetness from the apple, a richness from the nuts, plus zip from the dressing.  It was a refreshing, cleansing side dish to balance out the meal.  All together, it was a joy to eat.  Really, one of the best dinners we’ve created in a while.  Yum!  And leftovers were excellent too- for breakfast.  And for lunch.

Now, I’m hungry!  And I’ve got to go get to cookin’.  I hope this post finds you happy and healthy and enjoying every moment of this fast-paced life.  Cheers to another week of yumminess, my friends.

Happy cooking and eating to you,

ashli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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