Ground turkey, pesto, pasta and cheese baked into one glorious Italian Pasta Bake. Easy, light and healthy, oh and delicious too!

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

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.

It’s delicious.

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

To Make This Italian Pasta Bake You Will Need:

  • dried cavatappi pasta
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • 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!

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

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.

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

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.

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

Next add in 1 (15 ounce) can of fire-roasted tomatoes or tomato sauce.

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

Ground turkey is a not-so-pretty grey once it’s cooked, so I quickly mix the tomato sauce into it.

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

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.

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

Meanwhile reserve a cup of the pasta liquids, then drain the pasta and return it to the pan.

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

Next, add 1 cup of basil pesto, homemade or jarred – who cares? it’s PESTO!

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

Then add 1 cup of the Asaigo cheese.

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

Stir to combine.

I could so totally eat this right here and now but it gets so much better, just you wait!

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

Now the spinach should be bright green and tender.

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

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.

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

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?

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

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??

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

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!

Enjoy! And if you give this Italian Pasta Bake recipe a try, let me know! Snap a photo and tag me on twitter or instagram!

Italian Pasta Bake l SimplyScratch.com

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Yield: 10 servings

Italian Pasta Bake

Ground turkey, pesto, pasta and cheese baked into one glorious Italian Pasta Bake. Easy, light and healthy, oh and delicious too!

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces cavatappi pasta
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted tomato sauce
  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • 1 bag fresh baby spinach
  • cups freshly grated Asiago cheese, divided
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, optional

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil and season generously with kosher salt. Add pasta and cook to just shy of al dente. Reserve a cup of pasta water.
  • Meanwhile in a deep 10-inch skillet, over medium heat sauté garlic in olive oil. Add the ground turkey, use a spatula to break it up and cook until the turkey is no longer pink and is fully cooked, about 8 minutes.
  • Next add the tomatoes, pesto, 1/2 cup of cheese and stir.
  • Place the baby spinach on top of the simmering tomato and turkey mixture; reduce heat to low and cover to cook the spinach about 2-3 minutes.
  • Next, add the cooked and drained pasta to the tomato mixture and toss. If desired add a little of the pasta water to thin out the sauce.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese, panko bread crumbs and drizzle with a little olive oil.
  • Bake in your preheated oven until the top is golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

NOTE: feel free to omit the panko crumbs if desired
Serving: 1g, Calories: 399kcal, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 38mg, Sodium: 641mg, Potassium: 515mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1792IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 255mg, Iron: 3mg