September 4, 2012

Other People's Recipes: Sausage, Spinach and Onion Turnovers

Now that school has started, Wife and have finally had to abandon the debauchery of summer.  Boy and Girl spent the middle of summer break at their other parents' houses, and so we abandoned our aspirations of health to eat at restaurants, order pizzas, grill meat, and drink beer and/or rum every night of the week.  It was a great time, but we are both ready to get back on track.  We have a pretty good collection of recipes building up that have calorie counts included, and I've gotten back in the habit of crafting menus designed to get my family healthy food without working too hard or spending too much.  Most of the recipes are designed with dinner in mind; while I was working nights I just packed sandwiches and left my wife to fend for herself during lunch.  Since switching shifts, however, we've tried experimenting with more interesting food.  For the first few weeks it was just soup--easy to make and easy to portion-control--but Wife gets bored easily.  After a couple of casseroles, it was looking like time to retreat to the ease of sandwiches until I stumbled across a delicious looking savory turnover in the pages of Cooking Light.

So, before you can really get started making these wonderful little packages, it is important to get the prep work out of the way first.  Now--I used all the same ingredients as the original recipe, but some of the quantities have been changed to make this provide lunches for three people for an entire week, and some of the quantities have been changed due to my own personal preference.  The latter changes I will make note of as we proceed.
The first thing you need is one cup each of diced red potatoes, red bell pepper, and onion.  The recipe I worked from said to peel potatoes, but I almost never peel potatoes when I am cooking.  I have never found them to be problematic as far as texture is concerned, and prefer to keep as many nutrients in my food as possible.  That does mean you need to be extra diligent in scrubbing them, however.  Though it didn't specify, I tried to do a fairly small dice since the turnovers themselves are rather small.

Second on the list is nine cups of spinach.  What does nine cups of spinach look like?
Nine cups of spinach pretty much looks like a colander full of spinach. When you are cooking this will seem like way too much spinach, but I promise it will cook down.  We also need 6 tablespoons of fresh basil, finely chopped, and 3/4 of a teaspoon each salt and crushed red pepper.  All three of these ingredients will be going in at the same time, so it is easiest to just put them all in a small container such as a ramekin together.

Once you are done with all the produce, remove the casings from 21 ounces worth of spicy Italian sausage, either chicken or turkey.  Cooking Light recommends chicken, but WinCo carries turkey, and I can't say that it hurt anything.  


They actually come out pretty easily.  Once this is done, clean a space on your counter to begin working on the dough.  You will want two packages of store-bought pie crust from the refrigerated section (the kind that has two crusts per package.)  Cut each crust into quarters.
After you are done cutting, roll each wedge into a ball.
Boy decided he wanted to help with this part.


So, here is the biggest difference between Cooking Light's version of this dish and my own, and I don't know if it's due to the quality of pie crusts we bought (Pillsbury) or a misstep in their test kitchen, but it recommends rolling out each section of crust to a 5' circle and putting half a cup of filling in it.  (If you are going to do it that way, you only need 1 /12 packages of pie crust, and good luck.)  We could only ever get our crust to the size of a corn tortilla before it began to become too thin to work with, and 1/2 a cup of stuffing is far too much for it to hold without tearing.

So, now that all of the prep work is done, heat your oven to four hundred degrees and heat a large skillet to medium high heat.  Non-stick was recommended, but I just used cast iron with a hint of cooking spray.  The more I cook with it, the more I am hard pressed to ever want to use anything but cast iron.  Put everything on your vegetable plate--the onion, the pepper, and the potato--in and stir occasionally for 3 minutes or until your onions begin to brown:
 Once the onions have started to caramelize, add the sausage, stirring to break it up, and cook until it is browned.
In retrospect, you should break the sausage up more than I have here.
Now add the spinach in bunches, allowing it to reduce, about two minutes.  You're nearing the finish line.
Stir in your basil, salt, and crushed red pepper and remove the filling from heat.  Your house should be smelling pretty good by this point, and I'd be surprised if you hadn't sampled a piece of sausage by this point.  All that's left is to seal up 1/3 of a cup of filling inside of each tiny crust, hit it with a simple egg wash (the mix of 1 large egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of water is applied sparingly, so the quantity recommended for the original four serving version of this recipe does just as well covering sixteen,) and top each pocket with 3 teaspoons of Parmesan cheese.  
 Put them on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and bake for 18 minutes.  This recipe is a little bit time consuming, but apart from that it's super easy and the finished product is definitely worth it.  By reducing the amount of filling in each pocket, I was able to lower the amount of calories (originally 344,) but it also allowed me to end up with 16 pockets--enough for myself, Wife, and Boy (who HATES cafeteria food) to end up with lunch for the week--and still have one to tear open and sample.  If you don't have three people to feed, you can of course divide the recipe back down by 1/3, but you shouldn't.  Turnovers like these freeze exceptionally well, and as long as you have access to a microwave at work you won't have to worry about what to pack for lunch for three weeks.  
Wife made some apple turnovers as well, but that's another story.......

1 comment:

  1. I am totally excited by the possibilities this recipe opens up! Adding this to my list of make-a-head dishes!! Thanks for sharing!!