Ground turkey, pesto, pasta and cheese baked into one glorious Italian Pasta Bake. Easy, light and healthy, oh and delicious too!
My sister Christine emailed me this recipe forever and ever ago.
She told me to “Make it asap! It’s delicious!” and she was right! I remember loving the combination of the fire roasted tomatoes with the pesto and the copious amounts of cheese. But I believe she got this recipe from someone, who got it from someone and it may have been in a magazine or something, not sure. Whomever thought this little ditty up, me and my family thank you.
To Make This Italian Pasta Bake You Will Need:
- dried cavatappi pasta
- olive oil
- ground turkey
- fire-roasted tomato sauce
- baby spinach
- basil pesto
- freshly grated Asiago cheese, divided
- panko breadcrumbs (optional)
This dish is simple and quick to prepare. It makes for a soul warming weekday meal and would even be great to make ahead of time and then just pop in the oven when you’re ready to eat!
First bring a pot of salted boiling water, add then add 1 (16 ounce) box cavatappi pasta and cook just short of al dente. I usually stop mine two minutes before the recommended time when I plan to finish baking the pasta in the oven.
Next grate a cup and a half of the Asiago cheese.
Have you ever heard anyone complain about pasta being too cheesy? I didn’t think so.
Then mince up 2 cloves of garlic and cook it up with 1 pound ground turkey over medium heat in a 2 teaspoons olive oil.
Next add in 1 (15 ounce) can of fire-roasted tomatoes or tomato sauce.
Ground turkey is a not-so-pretty grey once it’s cooked, so I quickly mix the tomato sauce into it.
Then add in all 6 to 8 ounces baby spinach. Next, reduce heat a tad and place a lid over top. Then allow the steam wilt and cook the leaves for a couple minutes.
Meanwhile reserve a cup of the pasta liquids, then drain the pasta and return it to the pan.
Next, add 1 cup of basil pesto, homemade or jarred – who cares? it’s PESTO!
Then add 1 cup of the Asaigo cheese.
Stir to combine.
I could so totally eat this right here and now but it gets so much better, just you wait!
Now the spinach should be bright green and tender.
Then add the pesto pasta to the tomato and turkey mixture. And then give it a toss until everything is well mixed.
Here is where you can add a little of the pasta sauce if you think the sauce needs to be thinned out a little. Your call.
Next, pour the mixture into a large lightly greased baking dish and sprinkle with more cheese. Confession: I have this thing, where I can’t just leave a recipe alone. Because of this, I always change, add or delete something. I’m not sure why I do this, but admitting has to be the first step, right?
For this recipe; I couldn’t resist grabbing 1 cup panko and sprinkling a cup of it over top and liberally drizzling it with more olive oil. That step is not necessary, but I do like the added texture the panko gives. Bake in a 375° oven until the top is golden about 15-20 minutes. It could be a little longer, I didn’t write this part down and plus I forgot… amnesia remember??
This is such a hearty pasta dish!
I would so serve this with a bottle of wine and some garlic knots. Maybe some candle light and a little Frank Sinatra. Oh yes yes!
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