An alternative to my Italian husbands ‘chop suey’ night these cheesy whole wheat noodles with turkey and spinach give his dish a nutrition boost and add flavor.
If my husband had his way, we would eat “American Chop Suey” every night. What is American Chop Suey? It is a classic week-night dish his family served growing up consisting of noodles, ground beef and tomato sauce. I like to think of it as a homemade Hamburger Helper. In an effort to grant his wish, I decided to take one of his favorites and make a few classic Liz-swaps to boost the nutrition and flavor:
- Swap Beef for Ground Turkey Breast: This is a no brainer. He hardly noticed or missed the beef and I doubt your family will either.
- Add Leafy Greens: Frozen spinach is one of those “money in the bank” staples I always have on hand. It is a quick and easy way to make sure your family is eating their leafy greens every week. Spinach is so versatile – you can literally add it to anything from soups to stir-fries without changing the flavor profile of your dish.
- Color the Rainbow: By adding yellow peppers, onions, tomatoes and spinach – you instantly fill your plate with the colors of the rainbow ensuring that your family gets a well rounded dose of nutrients.
- Skip the Oil: Most people saute onions, veggies or meat in a little olive oil. Personally, I don’t notice the difference when I use non-stick spray or olive oil so I save the calories. Instead, I prefer to eat olive oil raw on salads or drizzled on top of a finished dish so that I can really taste and enjoy the fruity flavor of olive oil.
- Garlic, Garlic, Garlic: Garlic is the key to boosting flavor. Always use fresh and don’t go cheap. It’s heart healthy and really takes your dish to the next level.
Your fork is waiting.
Cheesy Whole Wheat Noodles with Turkey
- 8 ounces elbows (or other small pasta)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion (diced)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 20 ounces ground turkey breast
- 3 cloves garlic (grated)
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 bell pepper (any color)
- 14 ounces tomato sauce (low sodium)
- 32 ounces whole peeled tomatoes
- 14 ounce package frozen spinach (defrosted and drained)
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese (plus more to serve)
- chili flakes, basil (optional garnish)
- Cook whole wheat elbows in a large pot of salty water according to package instructions; set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions along with pinch salt and pepper and cook until translucent, 6-7 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add turkey breast, garlic and Italian seasoning to onions and cook for 8-10 minutes until turkey starts to brown. Stir in bell pepper and cook additional 4 minutes.
- Stir in tomato sauce and whole tomatoes. Using a pair of scissors, gently cut the whole tomatoes into bite-sized chunks (in the pot.) Add defrosted spinach, cheese and cooked noodles. Bring to a boil then reduce to low. Check for seasoning and add salt/pepper to taste. Serve immediately and garnish with additional parmesan cheese, chili flakes and minced basil if you wish.