Friday, January 14, 2011

Sweet Potato and Turkey Casserole

     This recipe came through my email from the website right after Thanksgiving.  It was originally designed to use up leftover turkey but I was excited about the use of sweet potatoes.  Most recipes with these potatoes are desserts and they are far from healthy.  This was also a new way to serve up my favorite root vegetable.  Awesome.

     There was an interesting mix of sweet and savory in this meal.  I am not a fan of sweet things in my meals (desserts are a different story) so I was a little hesitant when I saw the ingredient list.  Apples and onions?  Lemon juice?  Do those flavors taste good together?  Well, it got good reviews on the website, so I decided to make it.

    I didn't have any cooked turkey so I used ground turkey instead.  I forgot to measure out the requisite three cups and just used the entire package.  It was 19oz anyway...close enough. 

     I also used my homemade, fat-free Greek Yogurt instead of the sour cream!  (Check out Home-Made Greek Yogurt Part I and Part II

     And there's a secret ingredient: thyme!  I've never used thyme before and it has a pungent, salty taste.  It was an excellent companion for sweet potatoes.

     The original recipe called for the ingredients to be pre-cooked before the final assembly, so I lightly browned the ground turkey and then cooked the chopped apple and sweet potato as directed.  

     The sweet potatoes, veggies, and Greek yogurt then got mixed together.  I used a gentle hand here, as I didn't want to mash the cooked sweet potatoes.  

    In the original recipe, this was cooked entirely on the stove-top, to make separate patties.  I saw no point in doing that as the mixture was rather dry.  I just didn't think it would form patties.  So I made it into a "casserole" by cooking it in a casserole dish.  Whatever.  Here's a funny little story: I had this mixture in the casserole dish and in the oven when I turned around and saw the plate of onions sitting on the counter!  Shoot!  I forgot to mix them in!  I quickly sauteed them, until half of the onions were barely translucent, then mixed the onions into the casserole dish.  Now it was ready for the oven!

     I didn't know what temperature to bake this at nor for how long.   I decided to cook it at 375 Fahrenheit for 20 minutes after a quick review of similar recipes at  I just needed to make sure the turkey was cooked through.  It looked done when I pulled it out.
     It didn't look like much, honestly, although the aroma was fabulous.  I put it under the broiler to brown the top.  I checked it every minute.  I didn't want a charred casserole after I spent so much time on it.  I left it under the broiler for 5 minutes and finally decided to pull it out of the oven. didn't look any different.  S'okay, it still ate good.  The next time I make this, I am going to slice the potatoes using my food processor and layer them across the top, like a scalloped potato dish.  The presentation will be much nicer that way.  I bet this would be a great casserole for a pot-luck.  I'd love to read your comments!  Enjoy!

Sweet Potato and Turkey Casserole

Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups
Yield: 6 servings

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
1 medium apple, cored and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 tablespoon canola oil (I didn't use this much as I have an oil mister)
19 oz ground turkey
1/2 cup fat-freek Greek yogurt (Chobani and Stonybrook Farm both make Greek yogurt.  Use reduced- fat sour cream if you cannot find the yogurt.)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt*
ground pepper to taste


1) Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.  To make the sweet potatoes easier to chop, cook them in the microwave in 2-minute intervals until they are firm but not rock hard.  I test mine by making test cuts through the sweet potato.  The sharpness of your knife and your own strength determines how much time in the microwave is needed.  Chop the sweet potatoes into approximate 1/2 inch pieces.

2) Heat a large pan over medium high heat and add the chopped sweet potatoes and chopped apples. Cover with lightly salted water (about 1/8 teaspoon of coarse Kosher salt).  Bring to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes until the apples are soft but not mushy.  Drain and place the mixture in a large mixing bowl.

3) Return the pan to the heat and lightly oil it.  Add the ground turkey and saute it until it is just starting to brown.  Add the chopped onion and continue cooking  until the turkey is lightly browned and the onions are slightly translucent.  Add the meat mixture to the sweet potato mixture in the mixing bowl. 

4) Add the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, thyme, coarse Kosher salt, and pepper to the mixing bowl.  Gently stir to mix everything.  Scoop the mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish, spreading it out evenly.  Put the dish into the oven and cook for 20 minutes.  

Nutrition Per 1 1/4 Cup Serving:
Calories: 214, Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 56mg, Carbohydrates: 15g, Fiber: 3g, Sodium: 262mg**

* Coarse Kosher salt has less sodium in it than regular table salt.  Using table salt in this recipe is fine but be sure to use a little less or you risk over-salting the casserole.  Start with a small amount and "add salt to taste."

**I might have lightly salted the ground turkey when I sauteed it.  I usually salt meat when I'm cooking it but I just can't remember if I did it with this casserole.  So, this recipe may actually use a full teaspoon of coarse Kosher salt and the sodium content would of course be higher. 


  1. This sounds really interesting. I often don't like the combination of savoury and sweet, but it might be worth trying!

  2. Hi Beverly,
    I know what you mean about sweat and savory dishes! All of the flavors mellow out and blend together very well in this dish. The apples weren't sugary sweet. Instead, they provide a gentle apple-flavor to the dish. I hope that makes sense! The same thing goes for the onions. Please let me know if you make it; I'd love to read your comments.