Whether you're focused on reducing dietary fat intake or simply creating a tasty, well-balanced dinner for the family, ground turkey and pasta combinations offer a lean, nutritious alternative to meat and potatoes or other dishes. Pasta and ground turkey, jazzed up with fresh herbs and spices, make a satisfying entree suitable for individuals on a reduced-sodium eating plan. Serve your turkey-and-pasta dish hot and fresh from the kitchen or prepare it in advance for a hearty meal when you're on a tight schedule.
Read the label before you buy ground turkey. The lowest fat-content version -- marked “ground turkey breast” -- contains white meat with no skin. Regular ground turkey typically contains both dark and light meat and has approximately 10 percent fat content.
Brown the turkey meat over medium-high heat in a frying pan coated with nonstick cooking spray to minimize fat content in the finished dish. Drain any fat that separates out during the cooking process after the turkey is thoroughly cooked.
Break the ground meat up with a spatula as it cooks to prevent clumping and promote thorough, even cooking.
Season the turkey meat lightly with a pinch of salt or salt substitute and freshly ground pepper. Adjust the seasoning after the turkey has been safely cooked through and combined with other ingredients. Dried herbs, such as Italian seasoning, may be added during cooking.
Saute and season aromatic vegetables including chopped onions, celery, bell peppers and carrots separately. Combine the vegetables and meat after the ground turkey has been browned and drained.
Stir canned chopped tomatoes, garlic and fresh herbs into the vegetable-and-turkey mixture to make a savory red sauce. Cook the combined ingredients over medium-low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and flavors meld.
Stir low-sodium chicken broth and reduced or non-fat sour cream into the cooked turkey and vegetables to make a creamy topping for the pasta. Add several tablespoons of sweet paprika to create a paprikash-style pasta dish, if desired. Cook this type of sauce for up to 10 minutes over low heat, stirring routinely to keep the ingredients from separating or scorching.
Cook the pasta in a large pot until it is “al dente” -- easy to bite, but not mushy -- and drain it in a colander.
Dump the pasta in a large serving bowl while it is piping hot. Spoon the ground turkey sauce over the pasta. Toss the pasta and sauce together until all components are evenly blended. Sprinkle chopped fresh herbs and a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the top to put a finishing touch of style and flavor on the dish.
Prepare ground turkey and pasta with different types of noodles -- including whole-grain and multicolored vegetable noodles -- for interest and variety if you serve the dish often. Add zucchini, corn kernels, mushrooms and other favorite vegetables to your turkey-and-pasta dishes to create new flavor profiles.
Wash your hands, cooking utensils and any surfaces that encounter the raw ground turkey thoroughly with hot soapy water to prevent possible contamination from foodborne bacteria.