By Dina Eliash Robinson
Every now and then I get an irresistible urge to surprise—or even weird-out—my taste buds, along with those of my family and our gastronomically adventurous friends who are always willing to try out my latest improvised and, of course, all-organic dishes.
This week’s example of my “Jazz Cooking” is a rather economic Turkey-Veggie Loaf flavored with a heart-healthy combination of herbs and spices and bits of uncured turkey ‘bacon’ that are sure to kick up the flavors by several notches to please gourmet palates.
To challenge your own creativity, I’m leaving it up to each of you foodies to decide which ingredients from among the ones mentioned in, or left out of the list below, and in what quantities to use. Feel free to substitute, omit or add herbs, spices and other components your creative spirit desires.
In case you wonder why the enclosed photo shows such a large ‘turkey-vegetable loaf,’ let me confess that I made it for a dinner party of about a dozen invited guests and added several more portions just in case more might drop in unexpectedly—or if not, to provide us with leftovers to feast on later that week. By the way, I find that the flavors of leftover dishes deepen and improve continuously for at least eight days of being kept in the fridge.
Kitchenware Needed For Preparation: A food processor will help you shred or purée the vegetables—although it’s possible to manage without one since Whole Foods and other supermarkets that cater to health-conscious shoppers have begun to stock bagged, washed, organic, pre-shredded veggies, ready to cook. Choose fresh, seasonal and, above all, don’t forget, organic broccoli, cauliflower, the deep dark green ‘dino’ kale, carrots, root veggies, fresh parsley and basil, etc. Except for the pre-shredded veggies, I strongly advise washing all produce with liquid, plant-based (Dr. Bronner’s) Castile soap and rinsing repeatedly before shredding. Prepare (peel, slice, portion out) veggies and assemble in a colander to let water drip off them. Kale leaves should be stripped off their hard stems (which could be frozen & used for soups, or discarded).
Don’t worry if you end up with too much of one or more vegetables–just drip-dry or spin each kind separately, bag it in a freezer bag marked with the month and year of purchase and freeze for future meals.
Safe Cookware And Food Storage Containers: You might notice in the photo that I used a Pyrex glass baking dish. Because it is safe for healthy cooking and easy to clean, I own four different sizes of it.
My in-depth research in cookware and food storing containers has convinced me that Pyrex (or other heat-resistant type of glass) and stainless steel baking dishes are safest—also uncoated stainless steel skillets and cooking pots. Although I periodically repeated and expanded my research over the years, I have not found a single coated (i.e. ‘non-stick’) cooking pot or utensil available for consumers that I could confidently recommend as safe and healthy to use for cooking or storing food. Nor do I fully trust the health safety of either cast iron or enameled cookware.
Years ago it was discovered that some pottery dishes and tableware leech toxic substances, such as traces of lead, other heavy metals or chemicals that contaminated the clay or glaze materials used to make them. So we use only good quality porcelain, glass or Corningware-type tableware and storage bowls.
Ingredients Of Baked Turkey-Vegetable Loaf
• Ground organic turkey from a trusted source (choose white meat, dark meat or mixed);
- fresh, in-season, organic vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, parsley, basil, tarragon (herbs can be fresh or dry), “dino”-kale (leaves only, no center stalks), carrots & one or two other root veggies, red onion, pealed garlic cloves, etc.—shredded or puréed in food processor and gathered in a glass bowl;
* whole raw eggs;
* olive oil;
* one or two slices of organic (i.e. non-GMO) bread soaked in a small amount of almond milk until soggy;
* Worcestershire sauce;
* powdered ginger;
* sweet red paprika;
* Cayenne pepper;
* pink salt;
* diced organic, uncured turkey ‘bacon’;
* bread crumbs.
Directions: Blend ingredients thoroughly; spread a generous amount of olive oil over the bottom and sides of a Pyrex glass pan of a size appropriate to the amount of the mix, spoon the mix evenly into the pan and smooth it down; cover with bread crumbs and bake at 400 degrees for between 45 minutes and an hour and a half, depending on the size of the loaf. Keep checking to make sure the loaf is baked through, but don’t let it dry out.