Turkey Scaloppine with Pesto


The French could pay more attention to turkey. Actually, Americans could, too: It’s a bit of a shame that turkey tends to make only special guest appearances at the holidays, unless we buy it sliced in a deli sandwich. It’s one of the leanest white meats, an excellent protein source, and it has become the base for my American version of veal scaloppine. My husband, who loves this dish, is always pleased when I announce a “green turkey night,” signaling that with the turkey we will have a baked potato garnished with a dollop of pesto, as well as a portion of steamed broccoli. A turkey breast is much less a production to cook than a whole bird, and simpler still if you have the butcher slice it into scaloppine, as with a far more expensive breast of veal. I usually buy a fresh, organic turkey breast at Union Square Greenmarket, but they are easy to find. You can even order them on the Internet.


For the Pesto:
8 ounces fresh basil
1⁄2 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Pinch of salt
3⁄4 to 1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon grated Pecorino cheese

For the Scaloppines:
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 turkey scaloppines
1⁄2 tablespoon unsalted butter
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Yield: 4 servings


To make the pesto: Wash the basil, pat it dry, and place it in a mortar. Add the pine nuts, garlic and salt. Pound the ingredients with a circular motion of the pestle until you obtain a green paste. Put the paste in a bowl, and add oil gradually. Add the cheeses just before serving, and more oil if necessary. (You can also do this in the food processor.) The pesto can be made in advance and frozen in small cubes for use when needed. Warm 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, and cook the turkey for a few minutes on each side. Add the butter and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the pesto, and cook a few more minutes. If the sauce is on the dry side, add a few tablespoons of hot water. Mix well. Serve immediately. Note: Many people have far too narrow a notion of pesto. Basil is sublime. I love using it in summer when it flourishes, and I freeze pesto made of it to get me through the rest of the year. But did you know you can also make a rosemary pesto? A hazelnut pesto? French women don’t have idees fixes about such things and love to invent their own variations. So feel free. Autumn is the last chance to get fresh herbs at the market, so now is the time to make pesto.