You won’t often catch me eating fast food; I have it maybe once or twice a year, and only in dire circumstances (e.g. it’s the only thing open at 2 a.m. and I only have $1). I wasn’t always this way — which you may have gathered from my healthy chicken nugget post wherein I vilify my parents for taking me to McDonald’s every Saturday of my elementary school life — and after I graduated from college, I went on a serious Taco Bell kick. My friends occasionally bring up how desperately I tried to get someone to take me to/bring me some of that faux Mexican cuisine after one of my birthday celebrations. Screaming. Whining. Tears in my eyes. It was a sad, sad sight.
Fortunately, I weaned myself off Taco Bell, and I am even more grateful for it after the recent lawsuit surrounding the fast-food chain’s taco filling, claiming it contains only 35 percent beef and therefore cannot be considered “beef.” Not that I believed what I was eating back then contained anything that could be construed as healthy, but thinking about what makes up that other 65 percent makes my stomach a little queasier than it was when I ate that crap twice a week.
If you’re looking to avoid that questionable meat filling and/or want to try a spin on regular old tacos, make this taco calzone (from Healthy Food for Living). “But calzones are Italian, and tacos are Mexican!!” Is it blasphemy? Who cares? It’s good.
While beef would definitely work here, I opted for leaner turkey meat. I was worried I’d be sacrificing taste (turkey meat tends to be bland), but I was pleased with the outcome. And the avocado-cream spread is a must as it add a coolness to the bold Mexican flavors.
FOR TACO SEASONING
♦1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
♦3/4 tsp. cumin
♦1/2 tsp. salt
♦1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
♦1/4 tsp. paprika
♦1/8 tsp. garlic powder
♦1/8 tsp. onion powder
♦1/8 tsp. ground red pepper flakes
♦1/8 tsp. oregano
Combine spices in small bowl.
♦1/2 lb. ground turkey
♦homemade taco seasoning blend (can use store-bought)
♦2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
♦1/4 c. diced white onions
♦2 cloves of garlic
♦1/2 diced green bell pepper
♦1/4 c. salsa
♦1/2 c. shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
Divide dough into four portions. Roll each out onto a lightly floured surface (about 7 inches in diameter) and place on a lined baking sheet. Heat EVOO over medium-high heat. Cook onions for two to three minutes, then add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add ground turkey and cook for three minutes. Stir in green peppers and seasoning mix, and cook for three more minutes. Remove from heat and add salsa. Divide filling onto half of each dough round, leaving 1/2 inch border, then top with cheese. Fold the other half over the filling, press edges together and seal with a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 450 degrees.
♦1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
♦1/4 tsp. salt
♦ground black pepper
Mash together avocado, yogurt, salt and pepper in small bowl. Serve with finished calzones.
Total time? 30 minutes prep, 15 minutes bake.
Cost? $3 ground turkey, 1.67 avocado, $1.25 Greek yogurt, $1.25 pre-made dough, $1.74 shredded cheese. $1 total for onion and green pepper.
Overall success relative to expectations? 8 out of 10. Preparing the taco calzone was a relatively big production, but only because I’m terrible at working with dough. I forgot to add cheese into the first calzone before sealing it, too, so I had to unwrap it and throw that in, which — as you can imagine — got a little messy. I also neglected to make the Mexican spice mix before cooking the meat, so I was haphazardly dumping in undetermined amounts of spices to avoid overcooking the meat. The melding of Mexican and Italian cuisines may sound strange, but the flavors are great, and these turned out to be one of my favorite things I’ve made to date.