Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole

Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole | Me & The Moose. This casserole requires one oven-safe pan, a few simple ingredients, and is an easy, fast, healthy, and delicious meal for any busy night. #meandthemoose #kalerecipes #polentarecipes #kalepesto #dinnerrecipes #onepotcooking #fastdinnerrecipes #casseroles

I don’t know if the abundance of sugar, salt, and fat change my tastebuds during the holidays, but I always struggle to live by the 80/20 rule in December. I indulge with the eating and drinking and then swear I’m going to be healthy the next day, but the healthy stuff never feels all that satisfying or tastes all that good. So I end up like a moth to a flame with the treats.

But you know what? I don’t have to toggle between bland salads and a dozen cookies. This polenta casserole may just be the middle ground: It’s still delicious and a little indulgent with a garlicky pesto and plenty of cheese on top, but it also features kale and ground turkey breast and is the perfect vehicle for any of those leftover veggies in your fridge that are about to go bad. Throw them in and see what happens!

I used my own kale pesto recipe, but cut down on the oil and nuts. But for ease, feel free to use any store-bought pesto that you can find. And to up the nutrition, add any veggies you have in your fridge. You may need to add a bit more pesto to cover the extra ingredients.

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Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole | Me & The Moose. This casserole requires one oven-safe pan, a few simple ingredients, and is an easy, fast, healthy, and delicious meal for any busy night. #meandthemoose #kalerecipes #polentarecipes #kalepesto #dinnerrecipes #onepotcooking #fastdinnerrecipes #casseroles
Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole | Me & The Moose. This casserole requires one oven-safe pan, a few simple ingredients, and is an easy, fast, healthy, and delicious meal for any busy night. #meandthemoose #kalerecipes #polentarecipes #kalepesto #dinnerrecipes #onepotcooking #fastdinnerrecipes #casseroles

Polenta casserole

1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2 lb ground turkey
Large pinch of salt
¾-1 cup kale pesto (recipe below)
1 log premade polenta
½ cup mozzarella, shredded
½ cup hard gouda (not the softer, smoked variety), shredded
¼ cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 425.

In a large oven-safe sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium flame. Turn the heat to medium-low and sauté the ground turkey until no pink remains and it has just begun to brown, about 7-10 minutes. Season with a large pinch of salt.

Turn off the heat and stir in the kale pesto.

Slice the polenta log into 1/4 –inch pieces and layer over the turkey and pesto.

Top with cheese and cook in the oven for 13-15 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbling.  

Yield: 4 servings

Kale pesto

4 cups packed chopped kale
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp olive oil

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and fill another large bowl with ice water. Wash and chop kale, leaving the middle stems.

When water is at a rolling boil, add the kale and swirl with a slotted spoon a few times. After 1-2 minutes, remove it from the boiling water and add it to the bowl of ice water. Drain the kale (gently squeeze out the water) and add to your blender or food processor.

Roast the walnuts in a 350 oven or toaster oven for about 5 minutes or until just lightly browned and starting to smell nutty. You can also toast them in a sauté pan on the stove top. When browned, add them to the blender or food processor as well.

Add the garlic, salt, and lemon juice and start to blend, slowly adding the olive oil in a thin stream. If using a small food processor or a blender without a top that opens, just add the oil with the rest of the ingredients and process together. Blend until you've reached your desired consistency.

Yield: about 1 cup

Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole | Me & The Moose. This casserole requires one oven-safe pan, a few simple ingredients, and is an easy, fast, healthy, and delicious meal for any busy night. #meandthemoose #kalerecipes #polentarecipes #kalepesto #dinnerrecipes #onepotcooking #fastdinnerrecipes #casseroles

Squash, polenta, and kale Caesar salad

Squash, polenta, and kale Caesar salad | Me & The Moose. Adults and kids alike love this healthy and hearty salad. It combines roasted squash, crispy polenta croutons, roasted spiced almonds, dried cranberries, and a tahini Caesar dressing for a regular weeknight dinner or a special holiday occasion. #meandthemoose #thanksgivingsalad #salad #healthycaesar #delicatasquash #polentacroutons #glutenfree #dairyfree

There ought to be a place on the internet where parents can go to brag about the common and mostly harmless, but also spectacularly sudden and disgusting illnesses of childhood. Without going into detail (this is a FOOD blog, after all), instead of sleeping, we spent Saturday night showering, taking baths, doing laundry, and scrubbing carpets. No bueno.

Anyhoo, does your sleep schedule affect your diet? I’ve learned in my old age that getting less sleep leads me to terrible food choices. So obviously, I ate horribly this weekend and am feeling it today. But this salad is getting me back on track.

Delicata Squash is easy to prepare because it doesn’t require peeling. #meandthemoose #delicatasquash #healthycaesar #salad #fallsalad #thanksgivingsalad #thanksgivingrecipes
Delicata Squash is easy to prepare because it doesn’t require peeling. #meandthemoose #delicatasquash #healthycaesar #salad #fallsalad #thanksgivingsalad #thanksgivingrecipes
Delicata Squash is easy to prepare because it doesn’t require peeling. #meandthemoose #delicatasquash #healthycaesar #salad #fallsalad #thanksgivingsalad #thanksgivingrecipes

Delicata squash is one of the stars of this show. It requires less prep since the peel is edible. Just split it in half, scoop out the seeds, and slice. After roasting, the squash is sweet and creamy and the peel gets slightly crunchy, so it’s also a nice textural balance if your littles aren’t into “slimy” foods.

The dressing is my favorite dairy-free Caesar that’s been lightened up by swapping out tahini for the oil. The garlic, anchovies, and lemon taste even brighter and the sesame adds a nutty note that complements the rest of the salad’s flavors.

We also have crispy crunchy gluten-free croutons that are made with a store-bought polenta log. I accidentally discovered that putting a pizza stone in the oven while roasting the polenta SIGNIFICANTLY reduced the cooking time. Huzzah!

Squash, polenta, and kale Caesar salad | Me & The Moose. Adults and kids alike love this healthy and hearty salad. It combines roasted squash, crispy polenta croutons, roasted spiced almonds, dried cranberries, and a tahini Caesar dressing for a regular weeknight dinner or a special holiday occasion. #meandthemoose #thanksgivingsalad #salad #healthycaesar #delicatasquash #polentacroutons #glutenfree #dairyfree

The spiced, roasted nuts add even more crunch, which pairs nicely with the creaminess of the roasted squash. Toss on a few sweetened, dried cranberries and you have a harvest salad that hits all of the right salty and sweet notes. (A nutty cheese on top is entirely optional.)

I daresay this hearty pescatarian salad would be a welcome addition to your Thanksgiving table too.

A couple of notes:

  • I don’t salt the polenta before roasting. Most commercially made polenta has a fair amount of sodium in it already and you’ll be adding salt to the dressing and the squash.

  • While there are multiple steps to this salad, most of them can be completed simultaneously. You can also double the dressing recipe and it will keep well in a covered container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

  • Also, unlike dressed lettuce, which wilts quickly, kale only softens slightly and gets less bitter when left to sit with the dressing on, so make this salad ahead (or double the recipe) and eat it throughout the week.

  • A note about the size of this recipe: This recipe yields a main course for two adults and one child with either crusty bread or another protein on the side. If making this to last for the week or for a holiday meal, I would double or triple the recipe. All of its elements last on their own and are easy to toss into other meals.

Squash, polenta, and kale Caesar salad | Me & The Moose. Adults and kids alike love this healthy and hearty salad. It combines roasted squash, crispy polenta croutons, roasted spiced almonds, dried cranberries, and a tahini Caesar dressing for a regular weeknight dinner or a special holiday occasion. #meandthemoose #thanksgivingsalad #salad #healthycaesar #delicatasquash #polentacroutons #glutenfree #dairyfree

Squash, polenta, and kale Caesar salad


2 small bundles of Lacinto (Tuscan) kale (about 6 cups)
Tahini Caesar dressing (recipe below)
Roasted almonds (recipe below)
1 log pre-made polenta, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium Delicata squash, halved, seeds scooped out, and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Dried cranberries, to taste
Nutty cheese, such as gruyere, gouda, or parmesan, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425.

Tear or chop the kale into small bites.

Make your dressing (see recipe below). Add about 1/2 of the dressing to the torn kale and mix well. Add more to taste or reserve the rest for serving later. Set aside.

Make the roasted almonds (see recipe below). Set aside.

Chop the polenta and toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Spread onto your roasting pan and cook for 20 minutes. Flip and toss the pieces with a spatula, return to the oven and cook for another 20 minutes.

Clean and prepare the Delicata squash. Toss with the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil. Spread on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until the squash is soft.

  • I like to add the squash to the same oven as the polenta for the polenta’s last 20 minutes or so.

Add the squash, polenta, almonds, and cranberries to the salad. Feel free to use all or just some of the salad add-ins and reserve the leftovers for something else. Top with a few shavings of nutty cheese, if desired.

Yield: about 2 adult main-course salads and 1 child main-course salad; 4 side salads

Roasted almonds
½ cup raw almonds
½ tsp olive oil
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp rosemary
¼ tsp Aleppo pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the almonds with olive oil. Mix the spices together and add to the almonds. Mix well. Spread on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 4-6 minutes, until you can smell the spices and the nuts are crunchy. Check often to avoid burning.

Tahini Caesar dressing
2 Tbsp Primal Kitchen avocado mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2-3 whole anchovy fillets
2 medium cloves garlic
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup water (added 1 Tbsp at a time)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the mayo, lemon juice, mustard, anchovies, garlic, tahini, and 2 Tbsp of water in a food processor and blend well. Add more water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  • Remember that the anchovies are salty, so taste before you add more!

Squash, polenta, and kale Caesar salad | Me & The Moose. Adults and kids alike love this healthy and hearty salad. It combines roasted squash, crispy polenta croutons, roasted spiced almonds, dried cranberries, and a tahini Caesar dressing for a regular weeknight dinner or a special holiday occasion. #meandthemoose #thanksgivingsalad #salad #healthycaesar #delicatasquash #polentacroutons #glutenfree #dairyfree