If you’re like a lot of people, you don’t love ground turkey.

Why should you learn to at least like it? Ground turkey is a versatile, lean protein you can rotate into your week to keep things interesting. That’s reason enough for me!

Some people say ground turkey is an acquired taste, while others find it too rich, “gamey,” or slimy in texture. To work around these problems, here are my top suggestions for turning ground turkey into a tasty, quick, healthy meal.

Spend a little more for an organic brand.

This isn’t because I’ve tested the turkeys in a lab, but because I’ve noticed in my own cooking that spending more on an organic version yields a tastier recipe. Organic also means the ground turkey has been fed organically and was raised without antibiotics and hormones.

If you are squeamish about raw meat, be mindful of packaging.

Purchase ground turkey in a square package or on a foam tray, versus in a tube. Squirting a tube of ground turkey into a pan to brown it doesn’t bother everyone, but it  might seem less appetizing.

If you haven’t tried it before, buy the mixture of ground turkey breast and thighs.

Typically this mixture is 93 percent lean, and is labeled as “ground turkey.” The 7 percent fat content can offer a better taste and certainly keeps your recipe extra moist. If you purchase “ground turkey breast,” it does not contain the dark meat portion, and is usually 99 percent lean. This is a great lean option, but some say it has a different taste and can dry out more quickly.

Season well.

If you are new to ground turkey, know that it doesn’t taste like beef. It has a more fleshy appearance and can be more “wet” if forming into patties or meatballs. Ground turkey works well in recipes with dry seasonings such as seasoned breadcrumbs, basil, black pepper, and paprika, or with small amounts of liquid ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, garlic and soy sauce.

Add sauces or serve within a casserole or soup.

Simmering seasoned, formed meatballs in spaghetti sauce can add extra flavor and create a tasty meal over pasta. Instead of beef in your chili or other soups, use ground turkey. It will absorb flavors from your cooking liquids while providing you with a low-fat protein source. Swapping seasoned ground turkey into tacos, sloppy Joes, egg casseroles or lettuce wraps is a great way to create an easy entrée.

Teriyaki Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Servings: 4-6

Sauce:

½ cup low-sodium soy sauce

¼ cup water

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons warm water

Filling:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 lb ground turkey

1 cup broccoli, finely chopped 

2 large carrots, peeled and grated

2 tablespoons minced garlic

8 large lettuce leaves (Romaine, iceberg or butter lettuce work best.)

Directions:

Mix soy sauce, ¼ cup water, red wine vinegar, sugars, garlic and ginger in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir with a whisk until sugar is dissolved.

In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons warm water and cornstarch until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Heat sauce over medium high heat. Slowly whisk in cornstarch mixture and simmer until thickened. Keep warm.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble ground turkey and garlic into the pan and cook until turkey is no longer pink. Add grated carrots and chopped broccoli about halfway through, when the turkey is still somewhat pink. Pour teriyaki sauce over cooked turkey and vegetable mixture. Mix, and simmer for about five minutes to combine the flavors.

Spoon mixture into lettuce leaves.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.