Creamy Turkey Pumpkin Pasta is just the one pot meal to satisfy a family of pumpkin lovers, without the added sugar. Keeping it creamy, healthy, bright, vibrant, and did we mention delicious? You’ll need this recipe all year round.
Comfort food for two, with leftovers, or a healthy meal the whole family can enjoy; this pumpkin pasta sauce dish can be served over your favorite pasta with a striking resemblance to mac and cheese with the crunch baked on top. Ready in just 30 minutes, you can enjoy this dish in your Sunday sweats or after a long day at work.
How to make creamy pumpkin pasta
Ingredients and substitutions
Here is a list of ingredients you need with substitutes you may find applicable to your eating style.
- Pasta – the pasta is cooked separately. So you can use any shape or type of pasta (gluten-free, high protein, leftover pasta, etc).
- Unsalted butter – or dairy-free butter
- Panko breadcrumbs – gluten-free breadcrumbs or even pork rinds. Just make sure they are large in texture and not the powdered kind.
- Lean ground turkey – any ground meat can be used here, however, turkey is the healthier choice. You can also use tofu or vegan meat.
- Grapeseed oil – any heart-healthy oil
- Ground Cinnamon
- Thyme Leaves – fresh or dried will work
- Kale – fresh or frozen
- Pumpkin puree – not pumpkin pie filling
- Cheese – Parmesan and cheddar, or vegan equivalents
- Lowfat Milk – coconut milk or almond milk
- Salt and Pepper
Steps for easy creamy pumpkin pasta
Step 1: While making your pasta of choice, brown the meat with oil, shallots, and spices. Reserve one ladle of pasta water before draining.
Step 2: As your turkey nears done, add in your kale and cook for just two minutes. You want to keep it rather crisp and not cooked until fully wilted. It will continue to cook in the next steps.
Step 3: Add pumpkin puree, cheeses, milk, salt, and pepper. Stir until cheese is melted and you have a nice thick, alfredo consistency sauce. While the sauce is coming together, brown your breadcrumbs with butter in a small skillet.
Step 4: Add in your cooked pasta to the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, you can add a ladle of pasta water to thin it out. Serve topped with browned breadcrumbs.
Tips for working with pasta
For the best pasta results in any pasta dish, be sure to thoroughly salt the water. It should taste like the ocean before adding dried pasta to the water. It should NOT taste like the Dead Sea, but certainly your standard ocean.
Always reserve a couple cups or ladles of pasta water before draining your pasta. The salt, starch, and water can help to thin out a fresh sauce or revive one from the leftover section in your fridge.
Stir your pasta as soon as dropped into the water. This will prevent clumping.
Other turkey recipes you’ll love
Can’t get enough pumpkin? Find recipes here!
Creamy Turkey Pumpkin Pasta
- Large, deep skillet
- Small skillet
- rubber spatula
- pasta pot
- 4 ounces (1/4 pound) dry penne pasta (or similar pasta)
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 2 Tablespoons white or whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
- 8 ounces (1/2 pound) lean ground turkey
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed (or other heart healthy) oil
- 1 shallot finely minced
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon dried or 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cups loosely packed kale thick stems removed and leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces (measure AFTER cleaning)
- 1 pound fresh (or 18 oz canned) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 Tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
- ⅛ cup shredded low fat cheddar cheese
- 2 ounces (1/4 liquid cup) lowfat milk (any variety)
- ¼ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (more or less to taste)
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook the pasta to al dente, according to package directions.
- As the pasta cooks, heat oil in a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add the ground turkey. Cook for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium and add shallot; cook for 1 minute before adding the cinnamon, thyme, and kale. Continue cooking over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until turkey is browned and Kale is somewhat wilted.
- Add pumpkin puree, both cheeses, and milk to the skillet. Stir to combine and cook until warmed through (cheese should melt). Season generously with salt and pepper before tossing the (drained) pasta with the pumpkin mixture.
- Melt butter in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and saute for 2 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally to prevent breadcrumbs from burning. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Pour into a serving dish and garnish with toasted breadcrumbs.