Easy, light summer fare

When taste matters
By: Gopal K. Kapur
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With summer under way, everybody is busy with their favorite activities, leaving little time for family meals. This month’s recipes are quick to prepare, nutritious and full of flavors. If you have not cooked couscous before, you will be surprised how easy and quickly it can be prepared and it is an excellent light alternative to rice or pasta. The dried fruits in couscous add texture, color and good nutrition, and fresh herbs will liven up your taste buds. Turkey & Spinach Meatballs Makes approximately 22 balls ½ cup chicken broth, fat free, low salt 1 cup yellow onion, diced fine 2 tablespoons minced garlic 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or minced 1-pound ground turkey, lean 1 10-ounce (or 12-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry of all liquid 1 large egg (or 2 egg whites), lightly whisked 1 cup plain bread crumbs, preferably home made from high-fiber bread 1 tablespoon pasta seasoning blend (Trader Joe’s) 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning, salt free 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon dry tarragon ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes ½ teaspoon turmeric powder 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely minced 2 tablespoons canola oil, preferably expeller In a small saucepan combine chicken broth, onion, garlic, mustard, ginger and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine ground turkey, spinach, beaten egg, bread crumbs, Pasta Seasoning, Italian Seasoning, black pepper, salt, tarragon, red pepper flakes, turmeric powder and rosemary. Pour the cooled onion mixture over the turkey and mix well. If the mixture is too moist, mix in a tablespoon of breadcrumbs at a time; if too dry, mix in a tablespoon of water at a time. Shape the mixture into golf ball-size meatballs. Note: this step can be done in two batches. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and fry the meatballs for 3 to 4 minutes, turning occasionally. Meatballs will finish cooking when they are simmered in the roasted bell pepper and artichoke sauce. Roasted bell pepper and artichoke sauce 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts (packed in water), drained and rinsed 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained 1 cup canned diced tomatoes, low salt 1 cup chicken broth, fat free, low salt 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 cup diced yellow onion 1 tablespoon minced garlic 2 teaspoons pasta seasoning blend (Trader Joe’s) ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon dry tarragon ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes ½ cup white wine, optional ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese 3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced In a food processor, combine artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, tomatoes and chicken broth, puree until smooth. Set aside. In a medium size saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; add onion and garlic, sauté for 5 minutes, stirring. Add Pasta Seasoning Blend, salt, tarragon, and red pepper flakes, stir well and sauté for 2 minutes. Deglaze the mixture with the wine, if using (the wine may flame). Transfer the sauce from the blender to the pan, add the meatballs, mix well, bring the sauce to simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through; stir gently and occasionally. Transfer the meatballs and sauce to a bowl, garnish with grated cheese and basil. Herbed Couscous 3 to 4 servings 1 cup chicken broth, fat free, low salt, or water 1 tablespoon olive oil ½ cup diced yellow or red onion ¼ cup dried apricots, diced ¼ cup dried cranberries, diced ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder ¼ teaspoon salt 1 cup couscous (try the tricolor couscous) ½ cup baby green peas, thawed ½ cup fresh herbs (mint, cilantro, basil, tarragon, or parsley), minced Bring the chicken broth or water to a boil. In the meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium-size sauce pan over medium heat; add onion, apricots, cranberries, turmeric, and salt; sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add couscous and peas, stir to mix, pour in the heated chicken broth or water, stir well, cover the pan, turn off the heat and let rest for 7 to 10 minutes. Uncover and add the herbs; using a fork, gently fluff the mixture. – Gopal Kapur, founder and president of the Center for Project Management, consults, writes and educates in both the public and private sectors as a noted authority on general and project management. His hobby is developing nutritious and tasty recipes, which he uses to raise funds for a number of charities. He can be reached at