I love using my slow cooker, it may one of my favorite kitchen tools and definitely one that saves my life many times. There is nothing more satisfying than leaving home in the morning to run errands or go to work, and know that by the time you get home, a delicious warm meal will be waiting for you.
Recently, I thought I had run out of ideas to create new dishes in my slow cooker…Silly me! With just a little bit of inspection around the pantry and my refrigerator, I found some nice ingredients to mix together.
There is nothing more appetizing to me than mac and cheese, but it is very fattening and not healthy at all. So, I decided to whip a new take on mac and cheese in my slow cooker, because why not? For this recipe, I used some lean ground turkey meat, as well as my favorite tortellini pasta, cheese, and lots and lots of spices for flavor.
Are you ready to try it? I promise you, this recipe is healthy, flavorful and will take you back to a Tuscan villa for a night. Plus, you can always switch up some ingredients and make it more of your own.
Slow Cooker Turkey and Cheese Pasta
Servings: 6 / Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 4.5 hours – 7.5 hours (depending on heat)
- 1 1/2 lb lean ground turkey meat (680g)
- 1 lb tortellini pasta (450g)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 13 oz stewed tomatoes (360g)
- 13 oz tomato sauce (360g)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon Worchester sauce
- 8 oz cooked spinach (225g)
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- On a skillet, heat up olive oil and place turkey meat. Let it brown and drain excess fat.
- Remove the meat, and on the same skillet, add onion and garlic, saute until onion turns golden or is transparent.
- Mix your onion, garlic and meat together. Transfer them to the slow cooker. Put the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, basil, oregano and Italian seasoning on top of the meat. Mix together.
- Add broth–if you think it is too much, add slowly. Mix together again. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn heat to low, and allow to cook from 6 to 7 hours. If you are running late, turn heat to high and cook for about 4 hours.
- Separately, cook pasta until it is tender. Drain well when ready and add it to the slow cooker. Mix together and add parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Stir to combine it all.
- Cook everything on slow cooker for an additional 30 minutes on high heat.
- Mix in spinach, let mix sit for another 3-5 minutes.
- Stir and serve hot.
Bring On The Italian Mac and Cheese!
Yes, this may not be the real mac and cheese, but I see it as a healthy Italian way to eat the foods we love and crave. I particularly love the easiness of this dish–the slow cooker does the hard work for you!
I love using a lot of garlic, but you may change it up as I mentioned before. Perhaps you want to make it less Italian, switch up the tomato sauce for some creamy mushrooms, or completely change it all by taking out the spinach and tomatoes and instead adding some heavy cream, corn and asparagus.
What do you think about this dish? Of course you can make it with beef instead of turkey, or ground chicken, itís up to you! Let me know how it went and what you would add or change.
Author Bio: Chidinma is the founder of Fruitful Kitchen, a blog that shares delicious recipes and lifestyle tips. Most of her recipes help women with fertility issues, especially fibroids, PCOS, and Endometriosis. Sometimes, however, you will find other interesting recipes, as well as cooking tips and tricks there.