Here's a gluten-free dish that won't leave you missing bread or pasta. I pan-fried pre-cooked basil and herb polenta medallions, then topped them with caramelized onions, turkey, eggplant and a small piece of goat cheese. I tied the dish together with tomato consommé and crunchy, coarsely chopped pistachios and
Ground turkey can taste a little bland so I upped the flavors with Mesquite seasoning, oregano, tomato paste, dry white wine and eggplant. I turned the eggplant into a garlicky sauce and cooked the browned turkey bits. The result is a hearty and rustic turkey ragu. To balance the spices from the turkey, I paired it with a tomato consommé. It provided a nice contrast in flavor, texture and color, but you could always add a drizzle of lime juice instead, if you prefer.
Servings: 12 appetizers
1 (24-ounce) package pre-cooked garlic and basil polenta
1½ pounds ground turkey
2 teaspoons Sweet Mesquite Seasoning
¼ cup ground hazelnuts (see tips)
2 ounces goat cheese
2 cups Sweet Million tomatoes (or regular cherry tomatoes)
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
⅛ teaspoon Bhut Jolokia Ghost Pepper Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce), to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small eggplant, trimmed and sliced
1½ tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock, warm
½ cup dry white wine (or more chicken stock)
1 sprig oregano
1 fresh bay leaf, torn in half
1 cup goat cheese, at room temperature
1 clove garlic, finely minced
5 shallots, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons curly parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
2 tablespoons pistachio kernels, coarsely crushed
For the eggplant: Sprinkle the sliced eggplant with salt. Let sit for 15 minutes, then pat dry.
For the tomato consommé: Place the tomatoes in a blender. Add fresh mint. Pulse until smooth. Strain the mixture through a coarse-mesh sieve, discarding the solids. Add a hint of hot sauce to the liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature until ready to serve.
For the turkey ragu and crispy polenta:
Reserve about 1 tablespoon of parsley for garnish.
Cut the polenta into 1¼-inch slices. Brush them with olive oil.
In a pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook the eggplant on both sides until browned and transfer to food processor, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan.
In the same pan, add the shallots and cook until softened and golden. Transfer half the amount to a plate and the rest to the food processor. Add tomato paste and chicken stock for a smoother flow. Pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
In the pan, add more oil if necessary. Pan-fry the polenta pieces until slightly golden and crispy. Transfer to a plate. (I use a circle cutter to shape smaller-sized medallions; but you could keep them larger if you like).
In the pan, add the garlic, bay leaf and lemon thyme. Cook until fragrant. Add the meat and brown it for 6-7 minutes until it becomes crumbly. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the white wine and the remaining stock, then scrape any caramelized bits. Cover with the dark eggplant spread, lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the sprig of oregano and bay leaf, if possible.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the polenta medallions. Add a layer of the reserved caramelized shallots. Cover with a small mound of turkey ragu. Top with a piece of goat cheese and place under the broiler for 5 minutes until the cheese is soft and "melty".
Transfer to a serving platter. Pour the tomato consommé over the polenta. Garnish with more curly parsley and the pistachios.
If you decide to serve the polenta as an appetizer, it's preferable to serve them in serving spoons (Chinese porcelain spoons) with a bit of the tomato consommé or without the consommé and just a drizzle of lime juice.
I used store-bought sweet Mesquite seasoning from Costco. You could add any blend of seasonings such as paprika or more red chili powder.
You can find All Spice Cafe online and discover their wide variety of hot sauces.