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Kale Turkey Pasta Bake Recipe is easy turkey pasta casserole made healthy with whole wheat pasta, tomato sauce and kale. | ifoodreal.com

Whole grain pasta, fresh kale (or spinach), extra lean ground turkey topped with a reasonable amount of part skim mozzarella cheese and baked until golden. This turkey pasta bake is perfect for a fairly quick weeknight meal, leftovers the next day and a meal prep. You could even assemble the casserole and freeze with plastic wrap on top. When ready to eat, bake from frozen and increase baking time by 15 – 20 minutes. I remember when I was pregnant and almost due, I stocked up my freezer with similar casseroles. Helped a lot!

Kale Turkey Pasta Bake Recipe is easy turkey pasta casserole made healthy with whole wheat pasta, tomato sauce and kale. | ifoodreal.com

In my household everyone loves pasta with cheese, I bet in yours too. I’m not a huge pasta lover but my kids are, shocking, right?! I just knew that I could sneak in a bunch of kale in this turkey pasta bake and nobody would complain. Yep, I was right.

Today you can find many healthy pastas at great price. Plus many of them are organic. Even gluten free pasta variety is huge: brown rice, quinoa etc. There is even black bean pasta. So, you can make pretty healthy pasta dish.:)

Kale Turkey Pasta Bake Recipe is easy turkey pasta casserole made healthy with whole wheat pasta, tomato sauce and kale. | ifoodreal.com

Many people are scared of pasta because of the carbs and heavy sauces. Here is my take on it: whole grain pasta made with tomato sauce and a little bit of cheese will not hurt you if eaten in moderation. I mean once in a few weeks 1 – 1.5 cups. Remember, one bad meal won’t make you fat, just like one healthy meal won’t make you skinny.

Whole grain pasta has more fiber than white pasta that has been stripped of nutrients. Simple carbohydrates like white pasta and rice cause high spikes of insulin thus inhibiting fat storage. I learnt that my body need good carbs to prevent me from overeating other food and thus going over my daily calorie intake. I do not count calories but I know what food I need to eat and when.

Kale Turkey Pasta Bake Recipe is easy turkey pasta casserole made healthy with whole wheat pasta, tomato sauce and kale. | ifoodreal.com Kale Turkey Pasta Bake Recipe is easy turkey pasta casserole made healthy with whole wheat pasta, tomato sauce and kale. | ifoodreal.com

This turkey pasta bake turned out delicious and very moist. I managed to sneak in a whole bunch of Lacinato kale, which is a nutritional powerhouse. Kale is full of fiber, iron and antioxidants. I could see how this casserole would be a perfect candidate for going bad box of spinach.

The casserole is large and serves 8 people. You could easily freeze the leftovers. I hope you and kids enjoy!

Kale Turkey Pasta Bake

Kale Turkey Pasta Bake


  • 3 cups (9 oz) whole wheat penne/fusilli pasta, dry (use certified GF for GF version)
  • 1 tsp olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lbs ground turkey, extra lean
  • 28 oz tomato sauce (I used organic Kirkland)
  • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 cup pasta water
  • 1 tbsp italian herb seasoning (oregano or basil), dried
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 - 5 cups kale (1 bunch), stem removed & chopped
  • 2 cups (5 oz) low fat mozzarella cheese, shredded & divided
  • 1/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped (for garnish)


  1. Cook pasta al dente as per package instructions, undercooking by 4 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Preheat large skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion and garlic, saute for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add turkey and cook for another 7 minutes, breaking meat into pieces and stirring occasionally. Add tomato sauce, honey, pasta water, herb seasoning, salt, pepper, kale and stir. Add previously cooked pasta and stir again.
  3. Transfer half of the mixture in 9" x 13" baking dish and sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese. Top with remaining mixture and sprinkle with remaining 1 + 1/4 cups cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and broil until cheese is golden brown. Serve hot garnished with parsley if desired.
  4. Storage Instructions: Refrigerate covered for up to 4 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 6 months. You can also freeze the casserole assembled but not cooked. When ready to eat, bake from frozen increasing baking time by 15 - 20 minutes.

Nutritional Info

Servings Per Recipe: 8

Amount Per Serving = 1 + 1/3 cups:
Calories: 358.2
Total Fat: 4.7 g
Cholesterol: 51.2 mg
Sodium: 868.8 mg
Total Carbs: 38.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.9 g
Protein: 40.0 g
WW Points+: 9

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  1. Kim

    This looks so delicious! I love how it looks so decadent, but it is healthy. Thanks so much for linking this to the Weekend Potluck. We are your newest followers on facebook. Hope your come back to the potluck this week!

    • Olena

      Spot on, Michelle. I make this type of bake mostly during Fall/Winter and more than you because I have kids.:) Thank you for stopping by. You always leave me comments and I don’t. I don’t have time to read anything.:(

  2. Natalie

    I had a couple of friends over and I did not know what to cook. I stumbled into this recipe and found I had all the ingredients. Needless to say, this dish was a hit! Thank you for all your posts! You are informative and you crack me up!

    • Olena

      That is so cool! Yeah, this one is very easy ingredients. Haha, glad I can put a smile on your face.:) You are welcome.

    • Olena

      Hi Lisa. Did you follow recipe exactly and measured everything? If “no” then may be we can trouble shoot. If “yes”, sigh, do you eat clean on a regular basis?

  3. Chante

    What exactly is the reason for the honey? I have yet to make the dish, so I’m not complaining, just curious. Not something you hear of in Italian cooking.

    • Olena

      A little bit of sweetener is added to any tomato sauce dish to offset the acidity of tomatoes. I use more naturally occurring version, honey, rather than processed sugar. Try not to add some and then taste after adding to see the difference.:)

  4. Kathryn

    Hi Olena,

    Can you please help me understand the measurements on the pasta and cheese? What is the “oz” amount in parentheses?


    • Olena

      That is if you are using scale for measuring. You can use cups. Some people use scale or to be more precise I add weight. Because for cheese you can pack cup lightly and not add enough.

  5. Krissy

    Did anyone find this recipe wayyyy too watery ? I used actual tomoatoe sauce and not marinara. Was that the issue ? Hoping I can make it longer so it evaporates some of the water.

  6. Matt

    Confused by the pasta cooking instructions. Am I to cook it 4 minutes shy of the “al dente” time? So, if the box says 8 minutes for “al dente,” I only cook for 4 minutes? Or is “al dente” 4 minutes shy of normal pasta cooking time?

  7. Jen

    It was watery and I did not like the Kale. The flavor, however, was very good. Will make it again and sub more tomato sauce for the pasta water, add more cheese (I know it will not be as light) and spinach instead of Kale.

  8. Katie

    I’ve made this a least a dozen times in the past year or so, SO delicious! Would you make any changes to cook time or less tomato sauce/liquid if using all frozen kale?

    • Olena

      Awesome to hear Katie. No, I would just leave it as is. Frozen kale doesn’t produce extra liquid and cooks fast. Enjoy!

  9. Kimberly LaBar

    Really tasty, I only had 1 pound of ground beef and regular white pasta. I also had some organic vegetable pasta sauce instead of tomato sauce. I just went for it and put what I had in there. Not altering any other ingredients. Kept the portions the same. Except the kale. I accidentally doubled it. But you couldn’t even tell. Still tasted great!

    • Olena

      Casseroles like this one are highly forgiving, use what you have on hand keeping the ratios dry:liquid the same, if you do not expect some traditional original Italian pasta bake that jumped off a Bon Appetite cover. Good job improvising, Kimberly!

  10. Sueuu

    Made this for dinner but added some red pepper flakes for heat and used honey instead of maple syrup. I also used frozen kale and organic ziti. My family loved it and so did I.

  11. Ginger

    This looks delicious! Olena, could you replace the pasta with brown rice, quinoa, or zucchini pasta? My husband is not a pasta fan so I’m hoping to substitute

    • Olena

      You can use pre-cooked quinoa or brown rice. I wouldn’t use zucchini pasta though, it will be a mushy watery mess.

  12. Kristi

    Tried this for dinner tonight. Didn’t have the tomato sauce so did a can of whole tomato’s instead. Delicious. Family loved it.


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