Turkey and kale pasta bake is full of healthy, wholesome ingredients combined with wonderful cheesy pasta. This casserole is a complete meal that is perfect for an easy dinner. Tomatoes, cheese, and pasta baking make the house smell wonderful. After all, who can resist lasagna or chicken parmesan?
Kale makes a lot of people stop in their tracks. Let’s face it, those big leaves and tough stems are a little intimidating. But frozen kale is much more approachable. I enjoy it in casseroles and even on my veggie pizza!
Pasta: I have used both penne and rotini pasta. The last batch I made was with a tricolor rotini as that is what I had available.
Olive Oil: Used to sauté the onions, garlic, and ground turkey. Olive is the classic oil in Italian-inspired pasta dishes.
Onion: I used red onion as we typically keep them in stock. White or yellow onions would be wonderful.
Garlic: You have to have garlic with tomatoes, pasta, and cheese!
Ground Turkey: I used a 90% lean ground turkey.
Diced Tomatoes: The tomatoes cook and get a little saucy in the casserole.
Sugar: A touch of sugar cuts the acidity of the tomatoes for a balanced flavor.
Italian Seasoning: A mix of basil, oregano, and other herbs to give this dish that classic flavor we all love.
Salt & Black Pepper: Enhances the flavors.
Red Pepper Flakes: I usually add a few red pepper flakes to lasagna and other red sauce pasta dishes for a touch of heat.
Frozen Kale: I usually have a bag of frozen kale on hand to use this super healthy leafy green veggie.
Mozzarella Cheese: Pastas, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese-it doesn’t get any better than that.
Start by heating water to boil the pasta. I also try to remember to pull the frozen kale out ahead of time to let it thaw a bit before adding to the casserole.
Cook the pasta a few minutes short of the package directions. The pasta will continue to cook as the pasta bakes.
Heat a large skillet with olive oil. Use a large, deep skillet as you will eventually be adding the pasta with the turkey and vegetable mixture. You will cook the ground turkey, then add the onions and garlic. Stir in the diced tomatoes, sugar, the spices, and the kale. Stir in the cooked pasta.
The casserole is then layered with the shredded cheese. Add half the turkey and pasta mixture in an even layer across the bottom of your 8×8 pan. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Add the remaining turkey pasta and then the rest of the cheese. Bake for 25 minutes until the casserole is hot and bubbling and the cheese on top is browned.
Allow the turkey and kale pasta bake to sit a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Turkey and Kale Pasta Bake
- 1½ cups penne or rotini pasta
- 1 tsp olive oil extra virgin
- ½ cup onion finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove minced
- ½ lb ground turkey
- 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes optional
- 1 cup frozen kale thawed
- 1½ cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- Cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions. You want the pasta a bit underdone as it will continue cooking while the dish bakes.
- Preheat large skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add ground turkey and cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking meat into pieces and stirring occasionally. Add onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and sauté for one minute.
- Add diced tomatoes, sugar, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and kale and stir. Add previously cooked pasta and stir again.
- Transfer half of the mixture in 8×8 baking dish and sprinkle with half the cheese. Top with remaining mixture and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.