This turkey-roni recipe is a fun, delicious remake of a childhood favorite. In this recipe the traditional beef-a-roni is made with lean ground turkey instead of beef for a healthy-ish and affordable update. It’s really easy to make, and you get a big batch so you can feed a crowd.
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 small Onion, finely diced
3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 lb. Ground Turkey, lean but not turkey breast
½ tsp. Kosher Salt, plus salt for the pasta water
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
½ tsp. Dried Oregano
Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper, optional
28 oz. Can of Whole Tomatoes, chopped
24 oz. Jar Meatless Pasta Sauce – use your favorite brand and variety
16 oz. Elbow Macaroni
2 cups Cheddar Jack Cheese, shredded
Use kitchen shears to break up the tomatoes, pour them into a bowl and snip away until they’re small, bite sized pieces.
In a small bowl combine the salt, pepper, oregano and crushed red pepper, if using. Stir to combine and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 5 minutes until they start to soften, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute, stirring frequently.
Raise heat to medium-high and add the ground turkey and the prepared seasoning mix. Stir while breaking up the turkey using a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the turkey is browned.
Add the tomatoes and jarred pasta sauce to the skillet. Bring the meat sauce to a simmer, lower heat to medium-low and cover. Cook the sauce, simmering for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook’s Notes: Keep the sauce at a simmer, if it’s boiling too vigorously, lower the heat a bit.
While the meat sauce cooks
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cook the macaroni following package directions for al dente. Remember to salt the pasta water (add 1-2 tbsp. of salt after it starts to boil). Drain the pasta and set aside.
Taste the meat sauce; add salt and pepper to taste, only if needed.
Make the turkey-roni
Add the macaroni to a large, oven proof casserole dish or baking pan. Spoon the sauce over the macaroni, add about half of cheese and stir together. Top the macaroni with the remaining cheese.
Place the casserole in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes until the cheese is melted.
I like to place the casserole dish on a baking sheet, just in case the sauce bubbles over.
Serve the turkey-roni with extra crushed red pepper and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy!