This recipe from Canadian Living’s Best Weekend Pleasures is, hands-down, our favourite baked pasta recipe. I’ve been been making it for years and it is always a big hit. Lean ground turkey is formed into meatballs, which are then browned. Make a sauce with tomatoes, peppers, onion and mushrooms and simmer the meatballs. Add cooked rigatoni, top with cheese and bake until the cheesy is gooey and delicious. This dish would be perfect for a casual holiday dinner party and you can make it in advance.

If you can’t find ground turkey, buy a skinless, boneless turkey breast and process it on high in your food processor.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Ingredients in this recipe that may contain artificial ingredients include the dry breadcrumbs, Parmesan, canned tomatoes and mozzarella. Look for breadcrumbs without additives, or substitute panko. Use Parmesan and mozzarella without colour and canned tomatoes with nothing added but salt, such as Unico brand.

Make turkey meatballs and brown well

Saute onion, peppers, garlic and mushrooms

Add tomatoes and turkey meatballs and simmer

Add cooked rigatoni

Top casserole with Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses

Bake until browned and piping hot

Ingredients:

Meatballs

1 Egg

1/3 c Onion, finely chopped

¼ c Dry breadcrumbs

2 Garlic cloves, minced

3 tb Parmesan, freshly grated

1 ts Dried oregano

¾ ts Salt

½ ts Pepper

1 lb Lean ground turkey

Sauce

2 tb Olive oil

1 Onion, chopped

2 Garlic cloves, minced

3 c Mushrooms, sliced

1 Sweet green pepper, chopped

1 ½ ts Dried basil

1 ½ ts Granulated sugar

1 ts Dried oregano

1 ts Salt

¾ ts Pepper

28 oz Canned tomatoes, chopped

2 tb Tomato paste

3 ½ c Rigatoni pasta

1 1/3 c Mozzarella, shredded

¼ c Parmesan, freshly grated

Preparation:

Meatballs: In bowl, beat egg lightly; mix in onion, crumbs, garlic, Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix in turkey. Shape heaping tablespoonfuls into balls. In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook meatballs, in batches if necessary, for 8-10 minutes or until browned on all sides. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate.

Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, green pepper, basil, sugar, oregano, salt, pepper and 2 tb water to skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste; bring to boil. Add meatballs; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook rigatoni for about 8 minutes or until pasta is tender but firm. Drain and return to pot; add tomato sauce, stirring to coat rigatoni. Transfer to 11×7-inch baking dish or 8-cup shallow oven casserole. You can make the recipe to this point, cool and refrigerate for up to one day.

Sprinkle mozzarella (use part-skim mozzarella), then Parmesan evenly over top.

Bake in 400F 200C oven for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is golden. Per serving: about 780 calories, 49 g protein, 34 g fat, 70 g carbohydrate very high source fibre, excellent source calcium and iron. Serves 6.

From Canadian Living’s Best Weekend Pleasures