Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Baked Rosé Bowties with Turkey and Peas

Does your family have any "cult favourite" dinners? You know them - the ones that came out of sheer desperation and the ends of too many leftovers (none of which make a full meal) one night, that tasted so good that they're given "craveable" status. For some families I know, it's "spaghetti pizza", for others, the go-to is fried rice, casseroles or fritattas.

In our family, we always had leftover Kraft Dinner, tomato sauce or salsa, and usually some sort of roasted meat. Now, pretty much everyone knows that reheated mac & cheese is not the tastiest thing in the world - it never really un-congeals - and leftover roasted or broiled chicken breasts are no treat either. However, when my mom took that brick of neon-orange pasta, dumped in the dregs of a jar of pasta sauce, whatever meat was left in the fridge and a couple handfuls of peas, dinner became something out of this world. We didn't care that it wasn't whipped up a la minute, or that when she was really pressed for time the concoction was microwaved, not baked or stovetop-cooked. It only tasted "right" with leftovers too - especially post-Thanksgiving turkey - making the "problem" of a too-big holiday feast more of a delight.

Baked Rosé Bowties with Turkey and Peas

The problem with relying on leftovers for that dish meant that as the years went on and the fridge stores dwindled with our growing appetites, that slap-dash cacophony of flavour became less and less common. Eventually it stopped altogether, due in large part to my sister's resistance to eating it and the fact my mom and I were trying to lose weight. It's been years now since I've had one of those "mom's macaroni" meals, but I've never forgotten them - which is why I decided to pay homage to my childhood and my mom's creativity by making my own version of the dish. While I still used leftover bits and pieces from my kitchen, I cooked up the dregs of a few boxes of whole wheat pasta and mixed up a rosé sauce with the last of my herb and garlic Ever - Variable Cooking Creme, tomato paste, milk and Parmesan rather than boiling a box of mac & cheese. Frozen turkey meat from Easter dinner went in along with the prerequisite frozen peas, and for a touch of extra texture I topped the pan with Panko and baked it just until crispy on top.

True, my pasta mashup is not the one from my early years, but it is darn tasty regardless - not only does it help use up leftovers, but you can make a lot of it and freeze a pan for later without loss of texture. If that doesn't sell you, maybe the fact that it's got less of a day-glo hue than the "original" will!

Baked Rosé Bowties with Turkey and Peas
Serves 8
1 box (~14 oz) whole grain farfalle pasta
1 cup frozen peas (no need to thaw)
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked turkey
3/4 cup herb and garlic Ever - Variable Cooking Creme (or storebought Cooking Creme)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup 1% milk
3 tbsp grated Parmesan
3 tbsp Panko bread crumbs
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease a 9" pan or casserole dish.
  2. In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta 7 minutes.
  3. Add peas and cook 1 minute. Drain and return to pot, stir in turkey.
  4. Add Creme, tomato paste, milk and Parmesan. Stir over very low heat until sauce is well incorporated through the pasta mixture.
  5. Scoop into the casserole dish and sprinkle with Panko.
  6. Bake 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 279.1
Total Fat: 4.9 g
Cholesterol: 31.3 mg
Sodium: 273.9 mg
Total Carbs: 42.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.2 g
Protein: 16.8 g