30-minute, one-pot pasta meals recipes that are healthy, tasty, and easy enough to make any night of the week make me look a whole lot just like this → 💃💃💃 because guess what?
You many think because I’m a food blogger, I’m in the kitchen every day, whipping up recipes so that I never have to think twice about what’s for dinner. But the reality is that most days I’m NOT cooking, and when I suddenly realize that it’s not just 5:00 somewhere…it’s 5:00 RIGHT HERE…I panic. Because if I haven’t taken the time to think ahead and do a bit of meal prep, just like my teenager, I’m left wondering what’s for dinner, too.
See, I’m betting I’m a lot like you. A gal who is always juggling my roles as a spouse, mom, daughter, sister, friend, business owner, mentor, volunteer, and wanderer-of-the-aisles-at-HomeGoods-deal-shopper as I continually work on finding the right balance so that my own needs don’t get lost in the shuffle in this circus act called life.
The saving grace? Simple, healthy, bold-flavored, all-in-one meals like this one-pot pasta that don’t require a bunch of hard-to-find ingredients or have too many steps. And bonus points go to the recipe if I can scavenge my pantry for most of it.
With that said, and I don’t want to sound too boastful, but this 30-minute meal recipe made with penne pasta, ground turkey and spinach totally delivers on each and every count, especially in its kicked up Mexican-spiced flavor.
How to Make the Perfect One-Pot Pasta
One-pot pastas are one of my weeknight favorites because there’s no extra dishes to wash and everything cooks together, infusing the every bite of the meal with flavor.
The key to ease with a dish like this is the dried pasta is cooked directly with the rest of the ingredients, absorbing the cooking liquid for even more flavor.
To make, cook this recipe in layers, starting with the turkey and seasoning mixture first, then add the next layer of flavor with a quick sauté of the fresh veg, then adding the canned tomatoes, spices and dried pasta with the chicken broth to add even more depth of flavor. Use a good quality chicken broth or make my homemade chicken stock recipe here—I freeze it in zippered gallon freezer bags then defrost for quick dinner occasions just like this.
A bit of half and half thickens the sauce just a enough without adding a whole lot of fat, and a few handfuls of leafy spinach to add a fresh, healthy vibrance to the pot. You could use chopped kale or even arugula if you have those on hand instead.
Finally, the whole dish is topped with just enough cheese to make this dinner totally crave-worthy for every eater at the table. I used Monterey Jack for a melty cheese pull but any melty cheese like provolone, mozzarella or even Swiss or cheddar will work here too. Or, if you want to go full Mexican flavor, queso will give a tangier, less melty bite.
One-Pot Penne Pasta with Turkey and Spinach
Choose a high-sided 3 to 4 quart sauté pan or a Dutch oven to make this recipe in to have enough room for the pasta to expand in as it cooks.
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 3 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 medium onion, diced
- ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chilies
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 10 ounces dried penne pasta
- 3 cups chicken broth
- ¼ cup cream
- 4 cups or 2 big handfuls fresh baby spinach
- ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
- Heat the oil in a large, high-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat until it shimmers and then add the ground turkey with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon ground cumin, the oregano, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and the crushed red pepper. Break up the turkey with the spices and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the onion, red bell pepper, and pressed garlic and cook for another 5 minutes or until the turkey is browned and the veggies soften.
- Add the canned tomatoes with green chiles to the skillet or pot with the rest of the kosher salt, cumin, black pepper, chili powder and stir. Add the penne pasta and cover with the chicken broth, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, cover and cook until the pasta is just tender, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the cream and fold in the spinach and cook until the spinach wilts, taste for seasoning and top with the shredded cheese. Garnish with the chopped cilantro, sit back and watch the forks fly!
More Weeknight Dinners to Love
I serve this 30-minute pasta dinner recipe with a simple dinner salad, this Chopped Mexican Kale Salad or my super easy Caesar salad. To make the rest of your weeknight dinners easy, here’s some ideas to get dinner on the table with ease.
- 30 Dinners to Make When There’s No Time to Cook
- Linguini and Zucchini Noodles with Shrimp
- 30-Minute Sesame Chicken Noodle Stir-Fry
- One-Pot Skinny Pasta Primavera
- 30-Minute Caprese Chicken
- One-Pot Black Bean Enchilada Pasta
- One-Pot Homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe
- 28 Days of Lighter Pasta Recipes to Make Now
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