Turkey and Pasta Dinner

     Pasta is always a favorite in our household.  It’s versatile, affordable, healthy and easy to prepare. So when we first found out that our family needs to totally avoid wheat in our diet, the kids got worried if they will be able to enjoy their beloved recipes.  Thank God, there is now an abundant selection of gluten free pasta – corn, rice, brown rice, quinoa and more.   Oh, they do come in different shapes too.
      Though I have to admit these gluten free pasta are quite pricer than their regular wheat based counterpart, they do pass the taste challenge. In fact, my kiddos like them better than the whole wheat variety which tends to be too hard or grainy. With little alterations in ingredients, we are now able to enjoy pasta dishes that are gluten, egg, dairy, soy and nut free. 

       This ground turkey and pasta dinner is one of the easiest to prepare and is always a crowd pleaser. Yes even those who aren’t concerned about food allergies love it. I tend to make a big batch all the time since my children request it for their school lunch the next day.  Plus the extra sauce is an excellent dip for chips too.

1 16 oz package of fusilli pasta (I used the Wegman’s Corn Pasta)
Big pot of hot water for cooking the pasta
1Tbsp. salt (for the pasta)

2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 lb ground turkey
1 23.5 oz Marinara Sauce (I used Wegman’s Organic Chunky Marinara)
1 23.5 oz Wegman’s Organic Grandpa’s Sauce Goes Vegetarian
1 cup water (I used 1/2 cup each to “rinse” or get the leftover sauce out the jars)
2 tsp salt
1tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves (chopped)

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Put the salt in the boiling water before adding the pasta.  In my case, I took out the pasta 2 mins before the suggested 14-16 minutes because I don’t want my pasta to be very soft when I add it to the sauce.  Rinse the pasta in cold running water. Set aside.
2. In a large pan, heat olive oil and saute the garlic until fragrant. About 1 minute.
3. Add the ground turkey and brown the meat. Stir often to prevent sticking on the pan and to cook evenly.
4. Once the meat is cooked all the way through, pour in the marinara, grandpa’s sauce and water. Bring to boil.
5. When the mixture starts to boil, season with salt and pepper.
6. Lower heat and simmer for about 5-7 minutes or until thick. Transfer about 2 cups of the meat sauce to a clean storage container. Set aside.
7. Add the cooked pasta to the remaining sauce in the pan. Mix well to coat all the noodles. 
8. After 5 minutes. Turn off heat and sprinkle the basil leaves.

9. Serve hot.

   – I found out that rinsing the pasta is a very important step.  Not only it stops the cooking of the noodles prevents it from being soggy but it also removes some of the starchy or grainy taste most non wheat pasta often possess.
   – Feel free to use your favorite homemade pasta or marinara sauce.  I just specified the brand I used because it gave me good results, the ingredients complied with our family’s food allergy requirements and each costs less than $3.00.  Making this dish really affordable. 
Try it and let me know what you think.

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