One of the biggest things I hear from friends is the question, “What should I make for dinner tonight?” After I had the flu a few weeks ago, I was craving a big bowl of comforting pasta that was quick and easy to make. Whenever I’m looking for an easy and cheap dinner, I always turn to pasta with ground turkey and veggies. Tossed together in casserole form, this dish is balanced with colorful produce–bright green kale, red bell peppers and yellow squash–plus has the comfort of cheesy noodles. With summer farmers’ market season coming up this weekend, you could put any summer produce in here: rainbow chard, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and any color peppers.
When you toss everything together and bake it in a square pan with extra cheese it feels especially comforting and like a gourmet casserole. The sweet pepper, chewy kale and soft crunch of the squash all add to the pasta. I love using ground turkey for lean protein, but you could sub ground beef or simply remove altogether for a vegetarian dish. The vegetables and ground turkey make pasta feel a little “healthier,” but you know what I say…everything in moderation!
- 0.5 pound ground turkey
- 9 ounces rigatoni or another pasta
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- ½ of a yellow squash or zucchini, sliced into half moons
- 2-3 cups Tuscan kale
- 2½ cups marinara sauce
- ½ cup shredded cheese, plus more for topping
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring a big pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions, just undercooking so noodles are al dente, or slightly chewy (about 9-10 minutes).
- Cook ground turkey over medium high heat in a large skillet until browned or just cooked through. Remove from pan.
- Add olive oil to the pan and then add diced pepper and squash. Season with two generous pinches of salt and pepper. Cook until soft and slightly charred, about 5-7 minutes. Add kale and cook until wilted and vivid green in color, about 1-2 more minutes.
- Add cooked noodles, browned turkey, marinara sauce and cheese into pan. Toss to combine.
- Pour pasta mixture into a 9x9 square pan. Top with layer of extra cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown.
This dish ended up not only being something to comfort me during the flu, but has been a weeknight favorite since. I can’t wait to hear what you think and how you customize it in your weeknight dinner life.
Love food. Love self. Love life.