Creamy Ground Turkey Pasta with Butternut Squash and Spinach is a delicious dinner that a whole family will love! If you're looking for the ground turkey recipe, look no further than this tasty, colorful, and vibrant dish!
Ground turkey pasta
This delicious pasta is packed with veggies (roasted butternut squash and spinach), has lean protein (ground turkey), and is a well-balanced meal.
Ground turkey is perfectly seasoned with smoked paprika and chili powder (and just the right amount of salt) and then cooked in olive oil. To assemble the pasta, toss the cooked seasoned ground turkey together with pasta cooked al dente and vegetables in a creamy sauce made from scratch with heavy cream and freshly shredded Parmesan cheese. Finally, sprinkle the pasta with fresh thyme and freshly ground black pepper.
Why use ground turkey in recipes
- Healthy protein. Ground turkey is a healthy protein that is lean and low in fat. It's a great alternative to ground beef or sausage.
- Is it bland? Some people think ground turkey is bland, but it's simply not true! You just have to season it properly. In this recipe, I used smoked paprika, chili powder, and the right amount of salt to give a lot of flavor to ground turkey.
- Comfort food. This pasta is delicious comfort food made with leaner meat as opposed to using sausage or ground beef. In fact, this pasta was totally inspired by my butternut squash and sausage pasta.
How to make ground turkey pasta
First, roast butternut squash. If you want to know everything about how to peel, seed, cube, and roast butternut squash - check out my very detailed basic recipe for roasted butternut squash.
Next, cook the ground turkey (seasoned with smoked paprika, chili powder, and salt) in olive oil.
Then, cook the spinach in olive oil until it wilts.
Make the creamy parmesan sauce by combining heavy cream and shredded Parmesan cheese and stirring, while the sauce simmers, until the cheese melts into a creamy texture. Finally, assemble the pasta by combining together the creamy spinach sauce, cooked ground turkey, cooked pasta, and roasted butternut squash. The end result is a beautiful and vibrant dish!
What cooking pan to use?
For this recipe, it's best to use a large, high-sided skillet to fit all the ingredients. You can use either cast-iron or stainless steel pan. 11-inch high-sided skillet works great!
What kind of cheese to use
You can use either Parmesan cheese, Asiago cheese, or Romano. You can also use pre-shredded Mozzarella cheese (low-moisture, part-skim). Do not use fresh Mozzarella cheese (usually sold as cheese balls).
- Use peeled, seeded, cubed butternut squash. Sometimes, you can purchase pre-prepared squash at the store. At other times, you have to do it yourself. I have a very detailed and helpful recipe describing how to peel, seed, cube, and roast butternut squash.
- Bring Parmesan cheese to room temperature. To make sure the cheese melts properly with the heavy cream, use a block of Parmesan cheese and shred it yourself. Make sure it is at room temperature (not refrigerator-cold) before you add it to the sauce. This means that you might have to briefly heat the shredded cheese in the microwave oven to warm it up (not to melt it!).
- Simmer the sauce on medium heat. When adding the cheese to the heavy cream, first bring the heavy cream to boil. Then, reduce to medium heat so that the sauce still boils but not as intensely. At this point add the shredded Parmesan cheese (see my note above about room temperature). Keep stirring the sauce for about 5 minutes on medium heat until the cheese melts.
How to store and reheat ground turkey pasta
This is a great recipe to make ahead and reheat later. Here are some tips:
- Fridge. Store it refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Freezer. Freeze this in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
- How to reheat. When reheating on the stovetop, add a small amount of milk or half-and-half or heavy cream to thin out the sauce. Reheat on low-medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 or 10 minutes.
What to serve with it
Serve ground turkey pasta with a simple, refreshing salad. Here are some favorites:
- Arugula Salad with Lemon Zest, Parmesan, and Balsamic Dressing
- Simple Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts, Parmesan Cheese
Other pasta recipes with poultry
- Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes
- Chicken Pasta with Burrata Cheese
- Chicken Zucchini Pasta with Basil Pesto and Cherry (or Grape) Tomatoes
Creamy Ground Turkey Pasta with Butternut Squash and Spinach
Roasted Butternut Squash
- 2 cups butternut squash , peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ lb ground turkey
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 oz spinach
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese shredded, room temperature, not cold
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 oz fusilli (spiral pasta)
- fresh thyme
Roasted Butternut Squash
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Make sure your butternut squash is peeled, seeded, and cubed. I have a very detailed recipe on how to peel, seed, cube, and roast butternut squash.
- In a large bowl, toss cubed butternut squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Spread the squash on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in one layer, without overcrowding.
- Roast in the preheated oven at 400 F on the middle rack for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.
How to cook ground turkey
- In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat.
- Add ground turkey and sprinkle it with smoked paprika, chili powder, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook, constantly stirring, for about 10 minutes until the ground turkey is cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Tip: Cook the ground turkey while the butternut squash is being roasted.
How to make a creamy sauce
- In a separate, large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add spinach over medium heat. Cook, occasionally stirring, for about 5 minutes until spinach starts to wilt.
- Add heavy cream to the skillet with cooked spinach. Bring to a brief boil on high heat, then immediately reduce to medium heat (boiling but not intensely). Add shredded Parmesan cheese. The Parmesan cheese should be at room temperature so that it melts properly. Keep stirring the sauce with the Parmesan cheese on medium heat (simmer) for about 5 minutes until the cheese melts. Remove from heat.
- Tip: Make the cream sauce while the butternut squash is being roasted.
Cook Pasta and Assemble
- Cook pasta al dente in boiling water according to package instructions. That usually means cooking pasta in boiling water for about 7 to 11 minutes. Drain.
- To a large skillet with the creamy spinach sauce, add drained cooked pasta and cooked ground turkey. Stir. Taste and season with salt to taste, about ¼ teaspoon of salt. No salt might be necessary if the ground turkey is salty enough.
- Tip: Use your judgment about whether or not to add salt or based on how salty the sauce with ground turkey pasta is.
- Top the pasta with roasted butternut squash. Stir the squash in, or leave it on top.
- Sprinkle the pasta with freshly ground black pepper and fresh thyme.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.