Italian turkey and pasta casserole

Total Time
18 min
5 min
13 min
Comforting and filling, this casserole features turkey, pasta, tomato sauce, and a mix of cheeses and is ready in under 20 minutes. The filling is cooked on the stovetop before being transferred to a baking dish, and then it goes under the broiler for a high hit of heat that browns the top and melts the cheese, producing the classic flavors and textures that make casseroles so endearing. This recipe uses ground turkey, but you could also use lean ground chicken or beef, if you like. Serve the casserole with a salad of romaine, endive, and radicchio tossed with balsamic vinegar, salt, and black pepper.


Uncooked penne pasta

½ pound(s), mezze, rotelle, or other small short pasta

Olive oil

1 tsp

Uncooked 93% lean ground turkey

1 pound(s)


3 clove(s)

Canned tomato sauce

15 oz

Italian seasoning

2 tsp

Table salt

¾ tsp

Black pepper

¼ tsp, freshly ground

Part skim ricotta cheese

1 cup(s)


cup(s), chopped, plus additional for garnish

Grated Pecorino Romano cheese

2 Tbsp

Fresh mozzarella cheese

4 oz

Cooking spray

1 spray(s)


  1. Spray flameproof 1½-quart shallow baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving ¼ cup pasta cooking water. Transfer to large bowl and keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat broiler.
  4. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey and cook, breaking apart with wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper and cook until mixture comes to boil.
  5. Add ricotta, ⅓ cup basil, pecorino, reserved pasta cooking water, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt to pasta and stir to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into prepared baking dish. Top evenly with turkey mixture. Arrange mozzarella on top of casserole.
  6. Broil 5 inches from heat until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with additional basil for garnish.
  7. Serving size: ⅛ of casserole