Sunday, March 13, 2011

Southwestern Turkey-Tater Casserole

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – January 5, 2010
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in Pillsbury, December 2010.

Not too long ago, I blogged about Tater-Topped Casserole, or as a friend asked me to re-name it, “See Ya Later, Tater Casserole.”  It was a fun recipe that wasn’t necessarily the healthiest, so when a turkey version of the dish, with a Southwestern twist, came up, I couldn’t wait to try it.

My finished product:

© You Want Me to Cook?

Picture published with recipe:

© Pillsbury

I know… I know… I have French fries on top of my casserole.  Well that was because of a slight misplacement of my tater tots.  I resorted to what I had, which was seasoned fries.  But I’ll elaborate on that more in a bit.  Other than that, my casserole turned out almost exact to theirs and it was delicious.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessNADA – You have to brown some turkey and do some mixing (which is all done in one pan).  All the vegetables are frozen and canned, so there isn’t much to get your kitchen dirty.

Start-to-Finish Time: A LITTLE OVER AN HOUR – It cooks for about 50 minutes and prior to that you have to brown some turkey and do some mixing.  You may be able to get it done in even less time, but plan on at least an hour.

Prep Work: ALL FINGERS STILL HERE – There’s nothing to prep.  Just open up some cans and bags and drain some vegetables.

Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP –You don’t have to chop any vegetables, do any prep work, or use fancy equipment.  More than likely, you’ll have the majority of the ingredients and all of the equipment in your kitchen.  If you can brown meat (and trust me, you can) and mix stuff up, you can complete this dish.

OverallNOT BAD – If they were going for Southwestern flavor, they fell a little short.  It needed some more spice!  It wasn’t bad, but it was just a regular turkey casserole.  Even had I had the right potatoes, I doubt I would have been overly impressed with this dish.

Recipe Information:
Time estimates are from the original publisher of the recipe, not the length of time it took me to create it.  Look for my comments below.  Nutritional Information is based on original recipe.  Any changes I make to reduce the caloric, fat, cholesterol or sodium content are not reflected in the Nutritional Information.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6

Nutritional Information
  • Calories 420
  • Total Fat 20g (Saturated Fat 8g)
  • Cholesterol 60mg
  • Sodium 980mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 38g
  • Fiber 5g
  • Protein 21g

I never can tell what recipe writers determine their “prep time” to be.  I think in this case, it is everything up to putting it in the oven.  Honestly, I don’t think you’ll need 25 minutes to cook the turkey and mix up the ingredients, but giving yourself an hour and 15 minutes probably isn’t a bad idea either.

There’s a lot of food here, so six servings may be able to be stretched to a little more if you serve it with a large salad and bread.

The nutritional information is slightly better than that of Tater-Topped Casserole (although higher in calories), however the big killer is still the sodium.  I have a couple of alternatives to help lower the number if you are on a strict low-sodium diet.

Changes denoted by red text

1 pound lean ground turkey
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups frozen cut green beans (from 1 pound bag)
1 can (18 ounces) Creamy mushroom soup
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1 can (11 ounces) Green Giant® Mexicorn® whole kernel corn with red and green peppers
3 cups frozen potato nuggets (from 32 ounces bag)

Ingredient Notes:
Green Beans – since Green Giant® is part of the Pillsbury family (writers of the recipe), they recommended Green Giant® Frozen Green Beans.  You can use whatever product you like, but I used a generic brand.

Creamy Mushroom Soup
  • Please note this is not condensed soup.  It originally called for Progresso® Vegetable Classics brand, but I found a generic creamy mushroom soup that was also reduced-fat, so I went with that instead.
  • The creamy mushroom soup is probably one of the biggest contributors to the sodium level of this dish.  One of the only reduced-sodium soups that are out there are the Healthy Request soups from Campbell’s, but they are only in the condensed form.  After doing a little investigation, you can use condensed soup if you add the water prior to adding it to the casserole.

Diced Canned Tomatoes – another contributor to the sodium level is the canned tomatoes.  Hunt's now has a “no salt added” diced tomato that they sell.  Definitely an option if you are watching your sodium intake.

Green Giant® Mexicorn – there is no substitute for Mexicorn - if you can find one, feel free to use it, but I had to go with the one and only.

Potato Nuggets
  • Potato nuggets are also known by their scientific name “Tater Tots”.  Of course, Tater Tots are brand specific (Ore Ida - which are not part of the Pillsbury family) and everyone else needs to call them potato nuggets.
  • You may have noticed, but I didn't use frozen potato nuggets on my casserole.  What happened is this: I knew I had seasoned tater tots in my freezer.  I saw them.  I swear I did.  So I didn’t buy anymore when I went to the store.  Fast forward about 4 days when I’m pulling out the ingredients for this dish.  I couldn’t find the tots in my freezer.  It is possible I imagined them, and for a while I thought there was some kind of vast tater tot conspiracy that may have involved gnomes, but it didn’t matter – they were gone.  What I did find was my seasoned French fries that I had bought to make as a quick side to burgers.  I decided to use them.  A couple weeks later, while searching for something else, I unearthed the tater tots, which had slid behind some other things in the bin.  Good to know I wasn’t crazy, but to late for this dish.

Equipment Needed:
12-inch skillet
Large spoon
13x9 inch glass baking dish (holding 3-quarts)

Equipment Notes:
Baking Dish – Ordinarily the difference between glass baking dishes and metal baking pans are the ability to withstand extreme heat and altered baking temperatures.  However, according to Better Homes and Gardens metal pans can react with eggs and acidic foods like tomatoes, so make sure you use a glass baking dish for this recipe.

(1)  Heat oven to 350°F.

(2)  In 12-inch skillet, cook ground turkey over medium heat, stirring frequently, until no longer pink; drain.

(3)  Stir in chili powder and cumin.

(4)  Spoon into ungreased 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish.

(5)  Gently stir in green beans, soup, tomatoes and corn.

You can combine everything in the baking dish.  However, if you don’t like the idea of this, you can combine these ingredients in a bowl before adding it to the baking dish.

(6)  Top with potato nuggets in single layer.

(7)  Bake uncovered 45 to 50 minutes or until bubbly around edges and potatoes are golden brown.

So obviously, if I made this again, I’d use the seasoned Tater Tots.  I’ll be honest though, I don’t think that would make much difference to the taste of the dish.  If Pillsbury’s writers were going for a Southwestern flair, they missed the mark.  It tasted a little bland for me.  It wasn’t “bad” it was just a regular turkey casserole.  So what I would do differently:
  • Use the seasoned Tater Tots
  • Add more chili powder to spice up the turkey.
  • Mix up some Healthy Request soup to lower the sodium.
  • Use “no salt added” tomatoes (for the sodium numbers) and possibly find some with some chilies thrown in to give the dish a kick.

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