Hi again Munchkin Blog readers! Lunches + Littles here, sharing a delicious dinner recipe suitable for the whole family – which if you already follow me over on my feed, you know are my absolute favorite types of recipes!
Anyways, let me back track for a minute… A couple of months ago I shared my One Pan Chicken Cacciatore w/ Spiralized Zoodles right here (if you missed it and are looking for more family friendly meals check it out), and received a lot of great feedback on it. But, I did have a lot of parents ask me, “What do you do if your kids just won’t eat zoodles?” Or, “What is the best way to start introducing zoodles to a toddler?” I responded in my Instagram Stories and to several direct messages and my advice every time was simply to start small. But, in responding to some of my followers, I felt bad that I had not in some way addressed this within that recipe. So, I am addressing it a bit today…
Truth is, some kids may not want a whole bowl of zoodles when they are first introduced to them. And some may not want to eat any of those little green strands they see. And you know what? That is perfectly okay. My kids didn’t suddenly wake up one day and want zoodles (especially zoodles over pasta noodles). But, we started small and things gradually changed.
When I first introduced the idea of zoodles, or any spiralized vegetable noodle to the kids it was always in small increments. I would plate a meal with regular pasta noodles and replace just about one fourth of the noodles with zoodles. It was a gradual shift. After they did okay with the one-fourth zoodles, three-fourths noodles ratio I added a little more zoodles and served less noodles the following time, and so on. Baby steps. And to be honest – it was baby steps even for my husband and I. Now, this is not to say that some nights we don’t just eat alllll the noodles. Because we do, on occasion. But I do make it a point to make healthy swaps where I can, and this is one area that, with a little time and patience, we have all grown to enjoy.
This dish is reminiscent of the hamburger helper type skillet meals I ate on occasion growing up. But, unlike the packaged dinner in a box – it is full of fresh, real food and ingredients like seasoned ground turkey, homemade tomato sauce, veggies and so on.
You definitely aren’t missing out on flavor with this recipe. And, I love that you can use this half and half base for a delicious dinner with more veggies and less calories. This Half + Half Linguine w/ Ground Turkey and Homemade Tomato Sauce is now a dish I serve at home very regularly. And, I think it can be a great starting point for families when it comes to introducing and/or incorporating more zoodles/veggies in your family’s meals. And if the half and half ratio is too much, you can adjust accordingly for your family’s needs. Start with just one-fourth zoodles to three-fourths noodles, as I explained above. No matter how small you start – you are still getting more veggies in, which is always a plus!
Check out the full recipe below and if you happen to make these – we want to see! Be sure to tag @munchkininc and @lunchesandlittles in your posts. As always, before starting, be sure to read through the entire recipe below, to ensure best results!
INGREDIENTS (for sauce):
- 2 and 1/2 pints cherry tomatoes (or equivalent)
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 8 cloves garlic (peeled)
- 2 tbsp plain tomato paste
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 and 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tbsp butter
INGREDIENTS (for the rest of the dish):
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb lean ground turkey
- 1/2 box linguine noodles (8 oz)
- 4- 6 zucchinis, depending on size (spiralized)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning, divided
- 1- 2 cups grape tomatoes
- fresh grated Parmesan cheese, if desired
INSTRUCTIONS (for the sauce):
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
- If your tomatoes have stems, remove stems and rinse. Or, even better – let your little one(s) take off the stems to get them hands on (this is such a great way to get your little ones more excited about the meals they eat). Set tomatoes aside.
- Cut bell pepper into strips. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add all of your sauce ingredients (minus the salt and pepper and 1 half of the olive oil – 2 tsp). Coat all ingredients well – ensuring that the tomatoes and pepper pieces are covered on all sides.
- Next, transfer coated mixture to an oven safe dish and cook in oven until tomatoes and peppers are softened and mixture is fragrant and bubbly.
- Remove from the oven and allow mixture to cool just slightly, then transfer to a high-powered blender (I used a Vitamix) and blend until smooth.
- Next in a sauce pan, add the remaining 2 tsp oil and heat. Then add sauce to pan and add in butter, mixing until worked into sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover and simmer on low heat until ready to use. Or, store in the refrigerator for up to one week. *Please note: this recipe yielded approximately 18 ounces of sauce. Use the extras throughout the week!
INSTRUCTIONS (for the rest of the dish):
- Start off by prepping your produce if you haven’t already: spiralize zucchini and mince garlic. Set aside.
- Cook ground turkey in a pan over medium-high heat. Season with herbs of choice and/or 1/2 of your Italian seasoning. Then set aside covered to keep warm.
- Next, cook linguine in boiling water according to the package instructions. Once cooked, drain and then drizzle a little olive oil over pasta and toss to coat. Set aside.
- While linguine is cooking, drizzle a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté garlic and zoodles to your liking (I just cook mine for a few minutes)
- Next, toss/combine zoodles and pasta and sprinkle with Italian seasoning (I do this in a large pot). Then add your ground turkey and sauce and mix it up as desired.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and top with whole grape tomatoes, as desired.
- Serve and enjoy!
For more quick and easy kid-friendly recipes be sure to check out my feed, @lunchesandlittles where I am making family friend meals like this and healthier snack options all of the time. And check out www.munchkin.com for feeding supplies and more for your little ones, like the tableware shown above.