Recently, I shared my struggles with finding quick and healthy recipes that come from a magic pantry that makes cooking at home effortless and fun, and you guys shared some great tips to help me out. Planning ahead and using Sundays to their full potential, among them. So I figured it's only fair that I share one of my favorite, healthy and delicious recipes with you, if you're on the hunt like I always am.
Honey Boo Boo's family's got sketti, but if a pound of margarine topped with warm ketchup isn't quite your speed, you can try your hand at my family's macaroni (pronounced mukurrroni). It's spaghetti done Persian style (don't ask why it's called macaroni when there are no macaroni noodles in sight in this recipe). This dish is relatively painless and very delicious, but is definitely different than the spaghetti you grew up eating, unless you're Iranian, in which case high five! If you have an open mind and an adventurous palette, you won't be disappointed. Hint, it includes turmeric, whose benefits have been showcased here on the blog, plus lime and greek style yogurt! Intrigued? Grossed out? Read on!
Persian Spaghetti (Macaroni)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 med sized onion; diced small
2 cloves minced or crushed garlic (add more if you like a lot of garlic)
1 lb or 1.5lb ground turkey (depending on how many people you want to feed) (you can use ground chicken or beef if you like)
1 tablespoon of turmeric
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes (you can also use your favorite pre-made sauce; they just have way more sugar and preservatives, but can be great in a pinch)
14-16 oz of whole wheat spaghetti (regular spaghetti is the really delicious, decadent version)
2-3 yukon gold potatoes (any potato will work here) peeled and sliced to about 1/2 inch thick
1-2 limes (at our house, each person gets their own lime--but I'll keep it civil for blog purposes)
Bring a large, heavy bottomed pot of water to boil for your spaghetti noodles.
While you're waiting...
Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil on med-high heat. When it starts to simmer slightly, add the onions and sautee until translucent. Add the garlic at this stage to avoid burning and toss around for 1 minute with the onions.
Add your ground turkey or meat here, constantly breaking up the meat with the end of your wooden spoon to eliminate any clumps.
When the meat is still slightly pink, add a generous sprinkling of salt, a few grinds of good black pepper and all the turmeric (evenly dusting over all the meat). Continue to stir until all the turmeric is incorporated and is fragrant. 1-2 minutes. It will give your meat a beautiful golden color.
If your water is boiling at this point, generously salt the water and add your noodles. Cook until they are VERY al dente (you are going to cook them again in a few steps and you don't want them to get mushy.)
Back to your meat (that's what she said)...
Add your can of tomato puree or preferred jarred tomato sauce. Turn the heat to medium low and let the meat sauce simmer with lid on until noodles are ready. (I often add another generous sprinkling of salt and pepper to the meat at this point (you could do a few red pepper flakes) but this is all optional if you're watching your salt intake.)
Now comes the interesting part...
Once your noodles are ready, drain, rinse and set aside in the colander. Rinse out the pot in which you boiled the noodles (to get rid of any of the flaky white salt-foam residue along the sides). In the bottom of the now rinsed and empty pot, add the remaining table spoon of olive oil plus a quarter cup of water. Swish around to make sure the oil and water (they won't really mix, duh) cover the whole bottom of the pot. You can add a splash more of water if need be. Then place your sliced potatoes in a single layer at the bottom of the pot.
Then add a layer of your cooked noodles topped with a layer of your meat sauces. Top that with another layer of noodles and top that with another layer of meat sauce. (Kind of like lasagna). Repeat until you've used all of your sauce and noodles. (The top layer should be meat sauce, not noodles.)
Place the pot back on the burner and turn the heat down to low. Place two paper towels between the pot and its lid to make sure no steam escapes. This will cook your meat and noodles together--imparting the flavor of the meat into the noodles themselves instead of just using them as a vehicle for the sauce.)
After about ten minutes (check a noodle to make sure it's to your desired done-ness. Wait longer if still too al dente for your taste.)
Turn off the heat and heap onto plates.
Now, for more interesting stuff...
This is where the lime and yogurt come in. We do a generous squeeze of lime onto our noodles with a sprinkle of salt. Add a dollop of cool, plain greek yogurt on the side. Every time you go to spin your noodles around your fork make sure they spin into your yogurt a bit.
And voila! You have a limey, creamy, tumeric-y Persian style spaghetti.
And the potatoes on the bottom? They have protected your pasta from burning while it's steaming up, and they have become golden, crisp and delicious in the process. These are the bits that everyone in my house always fights over. Top them with a little greek yogurt and a sprinkle of salt? YUMMM!
Leave a comment if you think you may try to make this! And don't worry, my feelings won't be hurt if this sounds terrible to you! I can see why, but I have to tell you...I've never had a single American friend not fall in love with it. Now, Persian yogurt soda? That's a different story. They all gag after one sip (even though I LOVE it), so I'll spare you the recipe for that one.
Happy cooking and see you in class!
Image of Sayeh wearing Lithe via Dom and Sayeh's Persian Spaghetti via Sayeh