New go-to dinner: Turkey oven sandwiches

The menu around our house has slowly grown in diversity, but it takes something special — something very special — to earn a regular spot in our weeknight rotation. One night is taco night. Then we have spaghetti night, or chicken nuggets night. My dad will probably thrown chicken on a grill on a different day, and then we’re left with dreaded Leftovers Night or We’re Going Out to Bob Evans Night.

Then I began combing the web for something new to make with ground turkey, something our freezer seems to never be without. Until a few months ago, ground turkey was reserved for homemade meatballs (thereby placing them on the roster for Spaghetti Night) and not much else. But now? With this recipe for turkey oven sandwiches, the times have been a’ changin’.

I love these because they’re simple, quick and different, plus mighty tasty and easy to prepare after work. And the best part is that they’re completely customizable — appropriate for the varied tastes of your family and guests, for sure. My dad hates celery, for one, so he gets one that’s completely plain . . . no celery, no onion, no nothing (well, besides cheese and sour cream). Everyone’s happy because they get what they want, and I’m happy because . . . well, it’s just delicious.

Whenever I think about making these, the best part is that we usually have everything we need right at home — minus the pita bread. I’ve made many a run to the grocery store and walked out with just pita bread, but it’s worth it. Filling and warm, these “sandwiches” — open-faced, anyway — are definitely comfort food. They don’t have to have the calories of traditional comfort foods, though; it’s easy to use fat-free sour cream instead of regular, reduced-fat cheese, etc.

The recipe below is a guideline, and most ingredients should be considered “to taste.” For instance, Spencer and I are totally nuts over garlic — so way more than the teaspoon below goes into our skillet. I’m also guilty of slapping tons of garlic salt, black pepper and other random spices, and these have never turned out poorly. The last thing you want is bland ground turkey, so go bold! Add what you think your crew will like — I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Also, I can easily make five sandwiches from one package of ground turkey — sometimes six, depending on how hungry everyone is!

Turkey Oven Sandwiches

Adapted from Betty Crocker

For turkey:
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon black pepper

When layering pitas:
4-6 pita breads
1 medium tomato, diced
1 medium celery stalk, sliced (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (or to taste)

For topping:
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Paprika, if desired

1. Heat oven to 425ºF. In a skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and garlic before adding turkey, poultry seasoning, garlic salt, black pepper and parsley. Stir occasionally until turkey is no longer pink, then drain.

2. Layer pita bread rounds on ungreased baking sheet (it’s okay if they overlap). Layer turkey, celery, red onion, tomato and Cheddar cheese on pitas.

3. Mix sour cream and mayonnaise, then spoon over top. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until topping is light brown. Enjoy!