I think I might have been an Italian nonna in my past life because I am obsessed with Italian food. But then again, I’ve never met anyone that doesn’t love Italian food so does that mean everyone has been a nonna? I’ll save that deep conversation for another day. But seriously, I could eat pasta every single day and there are some weeks where I do! Especially when they’re as good as this divine orecchiette!
I came up with this recipe because I was craving some good spicy Italian sausage and pasta but all I had in the house was ground turkey. I love ground turkey but I sometimes struggle to get the flavor of it to match what I’m really going for. BUT NOT THIS TIME! No struggling on this one! If I blindfolded you and fed you some of this amazing Italian turkey sausage and told you it was Italian pork sausage, you would never know it was a big fat lie. It’s that good and perfect, people. AND to make things even better, this dish is so easy and will be on the table in less than 30 minutes. Say hello to your new go-to!
The round-up of spices include smoked paprika, ground fennel, Italian seasoning (because why mix it yourself when it’s already been done for you), garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper.
And then of course, my favorite part – the pasta!! This is one of my favorite shapes of pasta partially because orecchiette means little ears and how can you not love a cute name like that! But this type is also great because they’re the most perfect little bites.
Once you get the pasta going in a big pot of water, you can start cooking the Italian turkey sausage. I like dropping them in little spoonfuls because it makes the dish look very rustic.
Once the sausage is all cooked, remove and set aside. Then you can cook the tomatoes and garlic in those residual flavors.
After the tomatoes get nice and squishy (but are still holding their shape!), you can dump the sausage back in and add two big handfuls of baby spinach. I know it looks like a ton but trust me, this is all going to wilt down and you’re going to be like “wtf, that’s it?”
Then add the PASTAAA! Oh man, I’m drooling just looking at this. I might have to make this for dinner again.
Make sure to add a little bit of that beautiful starchy pasta water to the pan. This is going to help create a nice sorta sauce. And that’s it! Really!! I mean… c’mon, how delish does that look.
- 1 lb. orecchiette
- 1 lb. lean ground turkey
- 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. ground fennel
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach
- 1 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
- 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt, pepper to taste
- 3 tbsp. reserved pasta water
- Parmesan-romano cheese
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as instructed on the label.
- In a large bowl, mix ground turkey, smoked paprika, Italian seasoning, ground fennel, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the ground turkey in small spoonfuls and cook until it begins to brown, about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove the cooked meat and set aside. In that same pan, add1 tbsp of olive oil and turn heat to low. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and turn heat to medium. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the tomatoes have softened, add the sausage and spinach to the pan. Cook until the spinach begins to wilt.
- Once the pasta is al dente, reserve 3 tbsp. of pasta water then drain the pasta. Stir the pasta into the pan and 2 tbsp. of the pasta water. Add the lemon pepper, parsley, and salt (to taste). If you want a looser sauce, you can add in the last tbsp. of pasta water.
- Top with Parmesan-Romano cheese and divide among bowls. Enjoy!