Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 - 25 minutes
This dish is a take on what Americans view as gulyás (goulash). Gulyás is a beloved, traditional Hungarian dish and is typically a version of a thick stew; there are many versions of gulyás - most of them are beef-based and feature a rich, paprika-laden sauce. This recipe is a combination of some Italian-inspired ingredients but is in the same spirit of a gulyás - it warms the body and the soul.
- 1 lb. lean ground turkey (Replacing the turkey with green lentils or perhaps other Italien style pulses would probably work for a vegetarian dish, that won't be an authentic Gulyás but it will be atypical Italien style pasta and lentil dish. Use less than 1 lb. Boil the pulses separately.)
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced or sliced thinly
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large zucchini (courgette), cut in thin coins (about 1/8 - 1/4" thick; use a mandoline for consistency)
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp. dried basil
- 1 (14 oz.) can no salt added diced tomatoes, with juice
- 8 oz. gemelli or elbow pasta** (about 3 cups dried pasta)
- 2/3 cup Pecorino Romano/Parmesan cheese blend, grated, plus more for serving
- Olive oil, for sautéing
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a large skillet, brown the meat over medium heat. Remove the meat, drain away any grease, and wipe out the pan. (Omit this for the vegetarian version.)
- Sauté the onion and green bell pepper in 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil over medium-low heat until tender. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the zucchini, season with salt, pepper and the herbs. Sauté until the zucchini starts to soften around the edges. Add the meat back in. (For the vegetarian version add cooked lentils or other pulses round about this point instead of meat.) Add the tomatoes, then mix well, cover and let simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions.
- In a large pasta bowl (or the pot in which the pasta was cooked), toss the pasta, meat mixture and cheese together. Serve immediately with crusty Italian bread and extra cheese for sprinkling over the top.
NOTE: Gemelli is a variant of spiral-shaped pasta and can be difficult to find in grocery stores. If gemelli can't be obtained, use any other spiral noodle of your choice (like fusilli, rotini, cellentani, etc.). The spiral noodles just make for a better presentation over regular elbow macaroni. Of course, you can always substitute whole wheat pasta into this recipe for added nutrition.
When it comes to the cheese, you can use Pecorino Romano or Parmesan alone, but a blend of the two is HIGHLY recommended. Each cheese provides its own unique flavor profile and the combination of the salty Parmesan with the tang of the Romano equals maximum flavor.
This recipe makes a LOT of food, so it can easily feed 4 - 6 people with decent portions. If serving other Italian foods as part of a coursed meal, this could easily feed 6 - 8 people in small portions when accompanied with bread and antipasti.