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Italian Turkey Spinach Cavatappi Pasta

Italian Pasta Bake

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This Italian Turkey Spinach Pasta Skillet is easy and delicious! Three cheeses blanket cooked ground turkey, spinach and pasta tossed in a tomato pesto sauce! Simple and perfect for any night of the week!
Course Mains & Entrees
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Asiago, fire roasted tomatoes, ground turkey, pesto, spinach
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 6 servings
Calories 582
Author Laurie McNamara



  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted
  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • 1/2 lemon zest and juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup asiago cheese freshly shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese freshly shredded
  • 12 ounces cavatappi pasta plus sea salt for cooking
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup yellow onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 pinch kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce or fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 8 ounces spinach



  • In a small blender or mini food processor, add the basil, parmesan, toasted pine nuts, garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and olive oil.
  • 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.
  • Secure the lid and blend until smooth.


  • Combine mozzarella, asiago and parmesan. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water (I add a palmful of sea salt) to boil. Once boiling, add in the pasta and cook following the package directions.
  • Reserve 1 cup of the pasta liquids BEFORE draining the pasta.
  • Meanwhile in a deep 10-inch skillet, over medium heat add turkey, onion and garlic with a pinch of salt. Use a spatula to break up the meat, and cook until onions are tender and the turkey is no longer pink and is fully cooked, about 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce and pour pasta water into the can halfway. Swirl to get any extra tomato sauce clinging to the inside and add to the turkey mixture.
  • Top with all of the spinach. Cover and let wilt over low heat for 8 minutes. Uncover and stir in the spinach.
  • Move your oven rack to the highest position and preheat your broiler on high.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to combine. Then add in the pesto (or 1 cup of jarred pesto if using) and stir until throughout. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  • Spread the pasta mixture evenly in the pan before sprinkling with the three cheeses. Slip under the broiler for a minute or two (watch carefully!) until the cheese has melted and is golden in spots.
  • Sprinkle with a little minced parsley and red pepper flakes before serving!


NOTE: feel free to omit the panko crumbs if desired


Serving: 1g | Calories: 582kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 629mg | Potassium: 678mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 4067IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 409mg | Iron: 3mg