A pasta casserole with turkey, mushrooms and bacon
Simple to put together and filling, I love a good baked pasta dish. And having discovered some beautiful velvet pioppini mushrooms at the grocery store, I added them to this casserole for texture and a woodsy flavor that complemented the ground turkey meatballs. However, you may use any mushroom you prefer. The ground meat came from the thighs and legs of a wild turkey, and I didn’t miss the red meat. This pasta dish also makes great leftovers.
Servings: 6 – 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 4 slices of bacon, chopped
- 8 ounces of any mushroom
- 2 14-ounce cans of chopped Italian tomatoes
- 1⁄3 cup of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 pound of uncooked rigatoni pasta
- 8 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1⁄3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 pound of ground wild turkey
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- ½ cup of Italian-style breadcrumbs
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Bring a pot of water to a boil with a generous pinch of salt. Cook rigatoni pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain and set aside, reserving some of the cooking liquid for later.
- To make meatballs, combine ground turkey, egg, ¼ cup of grated Parmesan, parsley, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Roll into balls and place on parchment paper to avoid sticking. In a large frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, fry meatballs until browned on all sides. Remove meatballs, drain on paper towels and set aside.
- In the same pan, lower heat to medium and render chopped bacon in the remaining oil, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms to the bacon and sauté for 5 minutes. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Next, add tomatoes with juice and parsley.
- Simmer until thickened, 10-20 minutes.
- Take the tomato sauce off the heat. In a large bowl, combine cooked rigatoni pasta, tomato sauce, meatballs, grated mozzarella cheese, ricotta and 1⁄3 cup of grated Parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste and, if necessary, add some reserved pasta liquid to keep mixture moist.
- Transfer pasta mixture to a large baking dish. Sprinkle more grated Parmesan cheese on top.
- Bake pasta for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven or until the top turns golden and the cheese has melted.■