Ground Turkey Pasta
Published Nov 17, 2023, Updated Nov 29, 2023
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This ground turkey pasta dish is comforting, packed with flavor and comes together in about 30 minutes for a quick and easy weeknight dinner that the whole family will love!
Introducing your new favorite weeknight dinner: ground turkey pasta!
This recipe was inspired by a meal we got from Green Chef, the meal kit delivery service that we’ve been using recently. It was just too good not to recreate! It combines cavatappi noodles in a creamy tomato turkey sauce that is chef’s kiss. My whole family gobbled this dish right up, even the kiddos. I can’t wait for you to try this one!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Protein-packed: One serving is packed with over 30 grams of protein!
- Easy to make: From start to finish this recipe comes together in about 30 minutes, making it the perfect recipe to make for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.
- Flavorful: The combination of fresh veggies, ground turkey and seasonings all simmering in a creamy tomato sauce is so delicious!
- pasta – I used cavatappi pasta for this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite pasta!
- olive oil – for sautéing your veggies and ground turkey.
- vegetables – yellow onion, garlic, red bell pepper and spinach.
- ground turkey – a leaner alternative to beef, bringing a lighter but still satisfying protein. I used 93% lean ground turkey.
- tomato sauce – the base for our sauce.
- coconut milk – adds creaminess to the sauce without heavy cream.
- balsamic vinegar – adds a sweet, tangy depth to the sauce.
- cream cheese – for a touch of creamy indulgence! Don’t skip this! Use dairy-free cream cheese if needed.
- seasonings and spices – Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper.
- parmesan cheese – for that final, salty, topping.
How to Make
Step 1: Boil the pasta as per package instructions, save ½ cup of pasta water, then drain and set aside.
Step 2: In a skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onion, bell pepper, and garlic until the onion softens.
Step 3: Add ground turkey, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to the skillet, cooking until the turkey is fully cooked.
Step 4: Stir in tomato sauce, coconut milk, balsamic vinegar, cream cheese, and ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water, and simmer until the spinach wilts.
Step 5: Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, adjust the sauce consistency with more pasta water if needed, and top with Parmesan cheese before serving.
Tips for Success
- Don’t forget to reserve some pasta water before draining. The starchy water is perfect for adjusting the consistency of your sauce.
- Cook the pasta al dente since it’ll continue cooking a bit in the sauce to prevent it from becoming too soft.
- Feel free to add more vegetables based on your preference or what’s available in your fridge.
- Before serving top with fresh herbs like fresh basil to really elevate the flavors of this dish.
Substitutions & Notes
- Pasta Alternatives: Any medium-sized pasta like penne or fusilli will do. I used regular pasta for this recipe, but you can always use whole wheat pasta or gluten-free pasta if needed. I love Banza chickpea pasta.
- Dairy-Free Options: For the cream cheese, there are dairy-free versions available which work well if you’re keeping it dairy-free. Just be mindful that they will alter the creaminess slightly compared to regular cream cheese.
- Meat Substitutes: Ground turkey is used for a leaner option, but if you prefer, ground beef or chicken could be used.
- Tomato Sauce and Coconut Milk: The combination of tomato sauce and coconut milk gives a unique flavor. If coconut milk isn’t your thing, light cream or a splash of regular milk can substitute, though it changes the taste slightly.
- Adding Heat: If you like a bit of spice, consider throwing in some red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce to the mix.
- Veggies Galore: While red bell pepper and spinach are used, feel free to add other veggies like zucchini, mushrooms, or kale for your preferred flavors.
What to Serve with Ground Turkey Pasta
This pasta dish is hearty and filling on its own, but it pairs wonderfully with a variety of sides to make a well-rounded meal. Here are some suggestions:
- Salad: A simple green salad can add a refreshing contrast to the rich pasta. Try this kale caesar salad for something tasty, yet simple.
- Roasted veggies: You can never have too many veggies, am I right?! A baking pan full of your favorite roasted vegetables would be the perfect side to this pasta. Some options: roasted broccoli, roasted sweet potatoes or air fryer brussels sprouts.
- Garlic Bread: Pasta + garlic bread = a match made in heaven.
How to Store Leftovers
- In the fridge: Store any leftover ground turkey pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should stay fresh for up to 3-4 days.
- Reheating: Warm the pasta over medium heat on the stove, adding a splash of water or broth if the sauce has thickened too much. You can also reheat it in the microwave, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.
More Turkey Recipes
- Spinach Turkey Meatballs
- The Best Turkey Burger
- Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili
- Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers
- Turkey Chili
- Baked Turkey Meatballs
More Pasta Dishes to Try
- Creamy Pumpkin Pasta
- Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Penne alla Vodka
- Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta with Tahini Sauce
- Spaghetti Squash Baked Feta Pasta
- Cottage Cheese Pasta
- One Pot Pasta
Be sure to check out the full collection of dinner recipes on EBF!
Ground Turkey Pasta
- 8 oz cellentani/cavatappi dry pasta
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ yellow onion, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- ¼ cup canned coconut milk
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 oz cream cheese, dairy-free, if needed
- ¼ -½ cup reserved pasta water
- 3 cups spinach
- Parmesan cheese, for topping
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup pasta water before draining. Set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes until onion starts to soften and become fragrant.
- Add ground turkey, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook for 6-7 minutes until turkey is fully cooked, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
- Add tomato sauce, coconut milk, balsamic vinegar, cream cheese and ¼ cup reserved pasta water to turkey mixture. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
- Add spinach and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes until spinach has wilted.
- Add pasta to the sauce and stir to coat. Add additional pasta water if needed to reach desired consistency.
- Serve topped with freshly shredded parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.