Quick and Easy Hearty Ground Turkey Marinara

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It is no secret that I love pasta. It doesn’t matter the noodle or what ends up on it. Serve it to me with a little garlic and olive oil or in a heavy bolognese, you’ll inevitably find a smile on my face before, during and after the devouring of whatever ends up in front of me.

There are so many ways of making pasta. I’ve done it from scratch multiple times (which is the absolute best kind), but doing so takes time that many of us might not have in our schedules. So in order to have a successful dinner with friends and family that uses pasta noodles from a box, I find that the heartier the sauce, the better the boxed pasta tastes. And in combing my mind for a pasta dinner simple enough to be ready for consumption in under an hour, I put together this recipe for you today.

My Hearty Ground Turkey Marinara is a healthy and robust sauce that is packed with protein and vegetables, simple to put together and without the need of any lengthy simmering. We get straight to the point with the use of only a handful of spices that bring out the flavor of each ingredient. And any noodle can be used in this recipe, so grab whatever you have in your cupboard and boil away.

I’m a lover of slow-cooked dishes that call for a ton of fresh herbs, primarily because I’ve got about 8 of them growing in pots on my balcony (including the fresh parsley used in this recipe). But there are instances where time and resources are slim, and this Hearty Ground Turkey Marinara pasta dish is proof that “less” can taste a hell of a lot like “more.”

We’re keeping it simple while delivering a caliber meal high enough for any gathering. So use this for your next gathering and save yourself some time in the kitchen. Smiles will be had by all you feed!

Hearty Ground Turkey Marinara

(recipe serving size – 6-8 people)

For the veggies:

1 large sweet onion, diced

1 lb white mushrooms, quartered (or pre-sliced to save time)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

Heat a large 12-inch cast iron skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and mushrooms and season with the cracked black pepper in the olive oil for about 10 minutes until the veggies have browned. Add the kosher salt during the last minute. Stir occasionally to prevent the onions from burning. Once browned, scrape the veggies into a large bowl and set aside.

For the ground turkey:

1 1/4 lb ground turkey

1 small can tomato paste, 6 oz

1 large can whole peeled tomatoes, 28 oz

1 large can crushed tomatoes, 28 oz

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

1 tb olive oil

Using the same pan, replenish the olive oil. Brown the turkey seasoned with the salt, pepper, garlic and parsley for 3-4 minutes until cooked about 3/4 of the way through. Fold in the tomato paste to incorporate it completely and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Add the whole peeled and crushed tomatoes along with the garlic and parsley. Gently break up the whole tomatoes with a spoon, leaving them whole but splitting them open to release the juices inside of them. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium.

Finishing off the meat sauce:

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp cracked black pepper

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tb chopped parsley for garnish

Add the spices to the meat sauce and simmer without the lid for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning. If the sauce begins to pop and splatter, set a lid loosely across the top, allowing whatever steam that may develop to be released and for the sauce to fortify in flavor.

Bringing it all together:

1 batch of the ground turkey marinara

1 lb fettuccine, penne or noodle pasta of your choice, cooked to al dente

1 cup of reserved pasta water

1 cup ricotta cheese or softened goat cheese

1 tb crushed red pepper flakes

Once the noodles are cooked, toss them in the pan with the sauce. Stir until the pasta is completely coated and allow the pasta to simmer with the sauce for about a minute. Add a little pasta water if you notice the sauce becoming too thick.

Pour the pasta into a large serving bowl or, if you are using a cast iron skillet, bring the entire pan to the table. Using a pair of serving spoons, place a helping of pasta onto your guests’ plates or into their bowls. Have the ricotta or goat cheese and the crushed red pepper flakes available in small separate serving dishes for your guests to add to their meal. Enjoy while warm!

Creative liberties: Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten-Free Remixes

If you’re not a carnivore like I am, you’re just looking to go meatless for an occasion, or suffer from illnesses that can cause problems when eating any of the more popular pastas, here are a few changes you can make to satisfy all kinds of guests.

  • Omit the ground turkey for a meatless dish. The mushrooms and tomatoes are hearty enough to keep you from missing the additional protein. And because of ground turkey being such a blank slate in the flavor department, rest assured the dish will taste just as good.
  • Turn this dish into one for the vegans by omitting the ground turkey and cheese. Surprisingly, there is no butter in any step of this recipe, so removing two items will make this dish desirable on an even grander scale.
  • Gluten-free pastas work just as well as those with gluten in them. A simple substitution will enable those with Celiac disease to enjoy this meal.
  • Take the flavor into another direction by using ground beef, sausage, veal, lamb or a blend of a few. The flavorful simplicity of this dish enables you to use almost any ground protein in place of turkey. If you decide to go the route of a different meat, make sure to taste your sauce as you add the salt to it when finishing it off on the stove. Some proteins contain more salt than others, and while you can always add salt as you go along, there’s no taking it away if you’ve already added too much.

 

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