Penne with Creamy Ground Turkey Tomato Sauce

penne with creamy ground turkey tomato sauce | sunsets on the side

penne with creamy ground turkey tomato sauce | sunsets on the side

I tend to write about a lot of rich food in this little corner of the web.  Those types of dishes are my favorite things to eat and, truthfully, cook.  But, I don’t cook like that every day. Otherwise, I’d need to invest in a new wardrobe.

My weeknights are typically all about being good so that I don’t feel badly about eating what I want on the weekends.  Monday through Thursday (or, on a really good week, Friday), I’m always looking for meals to make that are tasty but light.  This dish falls into that category.  It’s simple and fast to put together, and you’ll still feel good about yourself when you’re done eating.

penne with a creamy ground turkey tomato sauce | sunsets on the side

Goat cheese is my secret weapon when I’m making pasta dishes that are lower in fat.  When you stir it into a sauce, it looks and tastes a lot like a cream sauce, but there is, comparatively, fairly little fat in a serving of goat cheese.  (Bonus: my grocery store has a store brand goat cheese that’s delicious and almost half the price of regular goat cheese.  Be on the lookout; maybe yours does, too).

So, if you’re searching for more ideas for your light weeknight meals, don’t automatically rule out the pasta dishes.  They don’t always have to be heavy.  With some turkey, veges, and goat cheese, you can still have a hearty pasta dinner without needing a nap afterwards.

But, if you want the nap anyway, that’s what winter is for.  You just go ahead and take it.

penne & creamy ground turkey tomato sauce | sunsets on the side

Penne with Creamy Ground Turkey Tomato Sauce
Makes: 4 servings
  • 12 oz. penne (or any short pasta)
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 medium cubanelle peppers, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh sage
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 (14.5-oz) can petite diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  1. Bring a large pot of water with a handful of kosher salt to a boil, and cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large (12”) nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and cook for about 5 minutes until they start to soften.
  3. Add the garlic, ground turkey, rosemary, sage, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir together, break up the ground turkey, and cook for 4-5 minutes until the turkey is no longer pink. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, and cook for 2 minutes to reduce the wine slightly.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes and the tomato sauce, bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer – partially covered – for 15 minutes. Add the goat cheese, and stir until it’s blended into the sauce.
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet, stir to combine it with the sauce, and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese, and serve hot with extra parmesan, if desired.

Canadian Bacon & Cornbread Stuffing

canadian bacon cornbread stuffing | sunsets on the side

canadian bacon cornbread stuffing | sunsets on the side

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite day of the year.  It’s a holiday that doesn’t require all the hustle and gift-purchasing that Christmas does.  All it requires is cooking, eating, relaxing, gratitude, and football.  Win.

Thanksgiving is also all about tradition.  It’s the one day each year that I want things to taste exactly they way they have for decades.  I want the green bean casserole with canned cream-of-mushroom soup, and there must be mashed potatoes and an abundance of gravy.

But, the thing that really brings it home for me is the stuffing.  I *LOVE* stuffing.  Not only is it my favorite part of the meal, it’s also the one that has to taste just right in order for it to truly be Thanksgiving.  In my family, that means a lot of torn, slightly-stale bread, tons of butter, onion, celery, and seasoning.  It’s the best.

The problem, though, is that I also secretly love cornbread stuffing.  Cornbread has such a nice texture.  It’s rich but crumbly.  It’s sweet, but it goes so well with any kind of savory meat product you want to throw in.  As it turns out, it goes well with pretty much everything.  Extra apples?  Yes.  Fresh sage…totally!

Cornbread stuffing just isn’t traditional for me, so I never make it on Thanksgiving.  But, I guess that’s what the other 29 days in November are for?

Canadian Bacon & Cornbread Stuffing
Makes: 4 servings
  • 4 corn muffins (about 10 oz.)
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 oz. Canadian bacon, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1 ½ tsp. chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray an 8”x 8” square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Crumble corn muffins in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, about 6-7 minutes.
  4. Add the Canadian bacon and cook until pieces start to brown.
  5. Add the garlic, apple, sage, and thyme and cook for 2-3 minutes longer. Transfer mixture to the bowl with the crumbled corn muffins and stir to combine.
  6. Pour stuffing into the prepared dish, and pour chicken stock evenly over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray.