This healthy recipe for pasta with turkey sausage and peas makes a fast Italian skillet dinner for any night of the week.
But sometimes that big sausage-ey hug can feel a little too tight, a little too snug; just like my jeans. That’s why I’m lightening things up where I can and making small changes toward a healthier diet. For me, my husband, my dad, and you.
Subbing ground turkey for pork sausage is an easy switch to make, and it’s one that’s not even noticed because I have the secret to losing the fat but keeping all the flavor, and it’s all thanks to adding the same herbs and spices to ground turkey that make regular sausage taste so good.
How to Make Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Peas
With one swift glance through your fridge and freezer, and a swipe through the pantry, this recipe will quickly become the one you pull out of your “what’s for dinner tonight” hat. The recipe ingredients are staples you should have on hand or can be quickly picked up at any grocery store.
Here’s the ingredients you’ll need:
Short tube or small shell pasta: I always use DeLallo pasta for it’s perfectly toothsome bite
Ground turkey: Stay away from the ultra-lean turkey—it has zero flavor and has a squeaky bite when cooked. Regular lean ground turkey is best. Pick up a pound or if you’re thinking ahead, pull it from the freezer the night before to thaw in the fridge overnight.
Sausage-inspired spices and herbs: See below
Onion and garlic: no well-respected kitchen would be caught without these two cooking essentials
San Marzano tomatoes: Crushed tomatoes make this sauce easy and creamy
Half and half: This lightened up version of whole-fat cream thickens and flavors without all the fat
Frozen peas: Thaw them before or simply toss frozen into the sauce
Fresh basil and Parmesan cheese: These two finish the pasta off with flair
How to Make Turkey Sausage
Making lower-fat ground turkey taste like savory pork sausage is as simple as adding a few signature herbs and spices. Use lean ground turkey for the most flavor. There’s no need to work the spices into this mix, simply sprinkle over the turkey when it goes into the pan.
Make ground turkey taste like sausage by adding:
Fennel seeds: mash them with the back of a spoon or side of a chef’s knife to release the oils to create more flavor.
Italian seasoning: use a high quality blend, or make your own with dried oregano, basil and rosemary.
Red pepper flakes: make sure yours are fresh for best potency.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: Don’t get stingy with the salt, it brings out the flavor of all the other ingredients.
Once the sauce has cooked down, we loosen it with a bit of half and half to cook down and lighten the tomato flavor. Creamy, sweet tomato sauce is my litral jam.
Under cook the pasta by a 1-2 minutes from what’s instructed on the package directions so it can finish cooking in the sauce, absorbing the flavors as it finishes off without becoming too soft.
Stir in the frozen peas thawed or frozen, either way works. The handful of ground Parmesan cheese adds umami, depth and bit of saltiness.
I’m generous with the fresh basil, as one should be. You should go for it too.
This dish reheats well so leftovers — if you have them — make this dish a great one to make at the beginning of the week and have lunches or an extra dinner though the week.
You can also freeze it in individual containers for eating later.
Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Peas
Use lean ground turkey for the sausage in this healthy pasta dinner. Extra lean ground turkey is too lean and loses any flavor.
1 pound short dried DeLallo pasta such as orecchiette, penne, or shells
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
2 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 medium onion chopped
4 cloves garlic pressed or minced
1 28- ounce can crushed DeLallo San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves plus more for garnish, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup half and half
2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the penne pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions, less 2 minutes cooking time so the pasta ideal dente. Drain and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large over medium heat. Add the ground turkey, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, kosher salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Use a wooden spoon to break up the turkey meat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until cooked through and browned. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until the onion softens, about 3-4 minuets. Add the tomatoes and basil then season with the kosher salt and black pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes then stir in the half and half and frozen peas, then cook for 5 minutes. Toss the penne noodles with the sauce and top with the Parmesan cheese and more fresh basil.
Calories: 528kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 1139mg | Potassium: 881mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 560IU | Vitamin C: 15.2mg | Calcium: 205mg | Iron: 3.9mg