This ground turkey pasta recipe with broccoli is a super-easy, family-pleasing dinner ready in less than 30 minutes. If you are looking for quick and healthy ground turkey recipes, look no further, because this recipe is the perfect meal for a busy weeknight!
Here's an entree that is a guaranteed family-pleaser in my house! This Ground Turkey Pasta Broccoli Dinner is ready in 30 minutes or less, AND it's a complete dinner all in one dish. Absolutely my kind of recipe!
You don't need to add anything, but to make it go farther, you could round it out with a side salad, and you have everything you need for a great meal. Even my pickiest eater loves this dish!
WHY I LOVE THIS RECIPE
This recipe is on of my weeknight go-to meals, and here's why!
- This recipe is so easy to make, yet I always get big smiles when I tell the kids we are having this for dinner.
- It doesn't take much time or much brain-power to make this. I confess that I'm often a little fried at the end of the workday, and I really don't want to undertake a big project to get dinner on the table!
- This recipe is a complete dinner all in one, with the turkey, pasta, and broccoli. Sometimes I serve another vegetable along with it, or I make a quick side salad, but most of the time I just serve it all by itself!
- This dinner isn't full of empty calories! The turkey adds a lean protein and the broccoli lends green-veggie nutrition. Use a fiber-enriched pasta to minimize empty carbs.
- The basil in this dish provides nutritional and medicinal benefits! Basil is actually rich in antioxidants, certain vitamins and minerals, and even has antibacterial properties!
If you don't usually have fresh basil handy and use it in cooking, I recommend buying a large bunch of basil from the store. You should then have plenty to make this recipe, and you can use any remaining leaves to make my broccoli pesto sauce or use them as toppings on my easy pan pizza.
I like to keep a couple of 1 pound packages of ground turkey (or extra lean ground beef) in my freezer, because they are great to have on hand for whipping up quick dinners. Very lean ground meats are my preference because the minimal amount of fat means you don't have to deal with all that messy spattering while you are cooking.
How to make Ground Turkey Pasta Broccoli - Step by Step
You will need a box of pasta, bite-sized broccoli florets, olive oil, ground turkey, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, minced garlic, salt, fresh basil, and Parmesan cheese.
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, until the last 2 minutes.
During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli florets. Then drain the pasta and broccoli, return to the pot, and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet.
Add the turkey, paprika, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt.
Brown the ground turkey while breaking it up and combining it with the spices.
Add the turkey mixture, the remaining olive oil, and the basil into the pot with the pasta.
Mix well to combine. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
Can I use leftover holiday turkey in this dish?
Absolutely! If you are using leftover cooked turkey, simply chop it into bite sized pieces. Then, after you heat the olive oil in the skillet, add the garlic and other spices and saute until the garlic start to brown. At that point, add the turkey into the skillet and continue to saute until it warms through.
Can I use ground beef in this recipe?
Yes. Use the leanest ground beef you can get. You will want to drain the fat from the skillet before adding the cooked ground beef mixture to the pasta and broccoli.
What varieties of pasta work best?
I used cellentani pasta because I like the spiral shape, but you can use any pasta in this dish. Rotini, fusilli, and macaroni work well. You can also use penne, gemelli, or mini shells. There are over 600 types of pasta shapes to choose from! For this dish, I recommend pasta shapes that aren't too small (like orzo) or long and stringy (like spaghetti and fettuccine).
Can I use dried basil instead of fresh?
I don't personally like using dried basil unless I have no other choice. The flavor is not very good and so, if I don't have fresh, I usually just choose to go without.
However, I know it can be a little tough to keep basil fresh for long enough to be able to use it in a recipe, especially if you only do your food shopping once a week like I do.
Luckily, there is another option now which is a really good one! Gourmet Garden has a lightly dried basil which has a really good flavor and stays fresh up to 4 weeks in your refrigerator. It's a great alternative!
- Use a whole grain pasta for extra fiber and nutrition.
- You can reduce the amount of olive oil for an even leaner meal. Use 1 tablespoon for browning the ground turkey and then only 1 additional tablespoon later in the recipe.
- Once you get the pasta into to boiling water, start browning your turkey. That will help you get dinner on the table as quickly as possible!
- Use jarred minced garlic instead of fresh. It's just as good in this dish and saves you the step of mincing the garlic yourself.
- You can buy bags of pre-washed fresh broccoli florets. This will save you time in cutting and separating the broccoli. I find that sometimes there are large florets, however, so I just look through and cut a few of them here and there to make sure they are all around the same bite-sized dimensions.
- I usually reserve the Parmesan cheese for my family to sprinkle on themselves, but you can certainly just add it in ahead of time by combining it with the rest of the ingredients in the last step.
Variations for making this healthy ground turkey pasta dinner
- Substitute different veggies - spinach, green beans, cauliflower, snow peas, corn, etc. Experiment with different combinations and find the one your family loves the best!
- Try different pastas, such as whole wheat, fiber-enriched, and/or different shapes and sizes. If you have young kids, it might be fun to try alphabet pasta!
- Increase the amount of red pepper flakes if you like a little more heat.
- Use extra lean ground beef instead of ground turkey.
- Throw in a (drained) jar of mushrooms to make this dish even more substantial. Or, if you are feeling really ambitious, use 8 ounces of fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced, and cooked until soft.
- Add in some ranch dressing mix (from packet), Italian seasoning, or even seasoned salt (like the kind from Lawry's) for some extra flavor!
EASY TURKEY PASTA BROCCOLI RECIPE
This entree doesn't really need a side dish, but if you would like to have something else on the table, a steamed green veggie, or a side salad, or even these Pretzel Bites with Olives and Parmesan are great choices!
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars!
Easy Ground Turkey Broccoli Pasta Dinner
- 1 box spiral pasta (12-16 oz box)
- 8 ounces broccoli florets (cut to be bite-sized)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 16-20 ounces ground turkey (to substitute leftover cooked turkey, see notes)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli.1 box spiral pasta, 8 ounces broccoli florets
- Drain the broccoli and pasta and return to the pot. Cover and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat.2 tablespoons olive oil
- Add the turkey, paprika, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt.16-20 ounces ground turkey, 1 teaspoon paprika, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon salt
- Break the turkey into pieces, while cooking until browned. (see notes)16-20 ounces ground turkey
- Add the turkey mixture, the remaining olive oil, and the fresh basil to the pasta pot⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
- Mix until combined.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese when serving (or mix in just prior to serving).¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- For extra fiber and nutrition, use a whole grain pasta.
- For an even leaner meal reduce the amount of olive oil to 2 tbsp, with 1 tablespoon for browning the ground turkey and 1 additional tablespoon later in the recipe.
- To be efficient with your time, start browning your turkey right after you get the pasta into the boiling water.
- Jarred minced garlic works great in this recipe and saves you the steps of peeling and mincing fresh garlic.
- Using a bag of pre-washed fresh broccoli florets saves you time as well, just make sure you go through and trim some of the larger florets.
- To use leftover cooked turkey, simply chop it into bite sized pieces. Hold off on adding it to the skillet until after the garlic and other spices are already heated and beginning to brown. Then add the turkey pieces and cook until they are warmed through.
- My family loves this as it is, but if you family would prefer some extra flavor, amp it up by adding some ranch dressing mix, Italian seasoning, or seasoned salt (like Lawry's)!
Update Notes: This post was originally published in July 2015, but was republished with tips, step by step photos, and a recipe change in June 2019.
If you are a fan of ground turkey and pasta...
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