Being Italian, I used to polish off obscene amounts of pasta back in the day. Like, my high school days when I was either competitively swimming or running track and carbs were my life.
Growing up, my Mom would make homemade sauce, meatballs and italian sausage every Tuesday and Good Lord, there were some nights I think I ate my Dad under the table. These days, pasta is a treat I only like to enjoy once in a while. Though lately i’ve been having colossal cravings for rich, cheesy, saucy Italian food that I cannot seem to kick. Enter, this plate of glory.
These crispy Brussels paired with rich tomato sauce is an unexpected combination made in heaven. The rest of the pasta is studded with onions, garlic, oregano and basil. Then we have the whipped ricotta which just nestles in the pockets of the pasta like a pearl in a clam shell.
Little pillowy clouds of creamy goodness. Too cheesy? Am I getting carried away with the romantics of my food?
Fifty shades of cray.
And this is not, by any means, destroying the sanctity of the sprout. My main goal (in life) is to make healthy eating appealing to all walks of life. For someone that doesn’t like brussels, or any greens for that matter, I challenge you to not enjoy this plate of pasta.
It may be deceiving, but I actually found this meal to be relatively light. A side salad, some crusty bread and glass of vino really fit the bill to complete this healthy Italian meal.
Brussels and Turkey Ragu Penne with Whipped Ricotta
- 1 lb lean ground turkey
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, quartered
- 12 ounces whole-grain penne pasta
- 2 cups jarred red sauce of choice – I used low-sodium Tomato Basil
- 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2-3 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
- 2-3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional topping: freshly grated parmesan
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add Brussels and onion. Sauté 7-8 minutes. Let the Brussels slightly char and 0nions caramelize. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, ~1-2 minutes. Transfer all components to a large bowl and maintain pan heat.
- Add ground turkey to heated pan. Cook turkey until browned, ~5-7 minutes, breaking up with a spatula or wooden spoon into small pieces. This is also a good time to start heating your pot of water to cook the pasta. Generously salt the water before adding the pasta. Once the turkey is cooked, add red sauce and cooked vegetables back to skillet. Toss to combine.
- Once the pasta is al dente, pour into a colander to drain pasta water and return pasta back to pot. Add components of skillet (Brussels, turkey ragu) into pot to mix with pasta.
- To whip ricotta, place in a food processor with 1 tbsp olive oil and a dash of salt. Blend for ~30 seconds, until smooth and creamy.
- Transfer pasta to a 13×9 inch baking dish. Spoon in dollops of ricotta and bake for ~7-8 minutes, until ricotta slightly melts into pasta. — This step is not entirely necessary, as you could just add the ricotta to the pasta and serve, however I preferred the ricotta slightly melted.
- Top with freshly grated parmesan and basil (optional) and serve!
Nutrition Facts per Serving (roughly 2-2.5 cups prepared)
Calories: 480; Total Fat: 16 gm; Saturated Fat:4 gm; Cholesterol: 65 mg; Sodium: 200 mg; Carbohydrates: 50 gm; Fiber: 9 gm; Sugar: 8 gm; Protein: 32 gm