Baked Rigatoni with Spinach, Provolone, and Turkey

Getting back into the kitchen is rough, except not really. Cause look at that cheese.

Baked Rigatoni

Somehow I moseyed my way through making this over the course of three days. I mean, three.days. 72 hours. FOR REAL. Don’t run away – it’s not going to take you three days to make this because you’re focused and on-task and normal. But wowzers. Apparently I am not. During these long Food Blogger Pro recording days, I’ve gotten way too comfortable with frozen pizzas and Pad Thai takeout and possibly had my brain sucked out of my head by those massively hot buzzing video lights.

The good news is that this cozy deep-dish pasta is less about my distracted cooking abilities and more about the inexplicable goodness of Provolone cheese.

Baked Rigatoni

PS. I felt compelled to show you that I had to keep my shredded cheese in the freezer to keep it from turning into fondue on the cutting board. Photographic reasons why this took me three days to make, exhibit A.

Baked Rigatoni

Being that it’s the new year, I thought I’d start out with one of my all-time favorite so-healthy-but-actually-tastes-amazing tricks.

I call it “whole wheat pasta drowning in creamy squash sauce”.

Baked Rigatoni

Also healthy – eating spinach. Which I honestly haven’t done since we left America six months ago. There’s a 99% chance that I’ll cry when I take my first bite of salad again. Ugh. SALAD. Read: RANCH DRESSING.

Is it weird that when I finally found spinach I immediately stirred it into pasta and cheese?

Or is it the best idea I’ve had in the last three days?

Baked Rigatoni

Definitely a good idea.

Can I tell you about New Years? –> a bacon cheeseburger with a fried egg and a whole side of french fries for dinner last night, a few bites of Bjork’s deep fried Monte Cristo with raspberry jam, and an unfair amount of his fries. OMG. How was I just talking about salad? It was so, so good. By the way, what do regular people do on New Year’s day? Mysteries.

Bottom line. I really need healthy things to taste good.

This pasta? This healthy pasta? I’m LOVING it on this second day of the new year. I didn’t even really notice the squash sauce, which could be good or bad depending on your feelings for squash, and it could also have something to do with my taste buds being permanently desensitized to the flavor of squash after it being my only liked vegetable of the last 6 months, but it doesn’t even matter. In 2013, we need to be thinking about what really matters.

Like melted Provolone cheese cascading over this gorgeous healthy-ish pasta.

Baked Rigatoni

Really, though.

Do it for the Provolone.

Baked Rigatoni

5.0 from 6 reviews
Baked Rigatoni with Spinach, Provolone, and Turkey
Serves: 10
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium kabocha or butternut squash, peeled and cubed, about 4-5 cups
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • salt + pepper + dried oregano
  • ½ cup cream or half and half
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach
  • 1 cup grated Provolone cheese
  • 1 lb. whole wheat rigatoni
  1. Mince the onions and garlic. Combine in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil; add half of the onion/garlic mixture and the prepared squash. Cook for 10 minutes or until squash/onion/garlic are fork-tender. Transfer the cooked squash combo with ½ cup of the vegetable broth from the pot to a blender and puree until smooth, adding salt, pepper, and dried oregano to taste. Stir in cream and set aside.
  3. Brown the turkey over medium high heat with the remaining onion/garlic mixture. Season generously with salt, pepper, and oregano. Drain out any excess liquid so that the meat will get a browned, almost crispy look.
  4. Cook the rigatoni in a large pot. Undercook the pasta slightly to avoid mushy noodles - I boiled mine for about 6 minutes. Drain the water; add the sauce, sausage, and spinach to the pot with the noodles. Stir until combined. Transfer to a large baking dish (any shape), stopping half way to add a layer of cheese (about ½ cup of cheese). Pour remaining pasta mixture in and sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until the top is beginning to brown and everything is heated through.


Baked Rigatoni with Spinach, Provolone, and Turkey Nutrition Facts

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  1. Looks like some wonderful comfort food (that isn’t too unhealthy) there – thanks for another great recipe, Lindsay.

  2. A serious case of food envy right now. Luckily I have most things (apart from the turkey). Gonna try this over the weekend.

  3. This looks glorious! What a great way to start the new year. If it’s anything like the cauliflower alfredo, this will be delicious…

  4. This looks amazing. That sauce!! And cheese!

    Happy new year!

  5. Looks delicious, I love using squash for sauce with pasta, and spinach is always a good addition as well.

  6. You’ve got Provolone over there?! Jealous. I miss Provolone. It’s incredibly stupid that we don’t have Provolone despite almost sharing a border with Italy. Ugh.

    And squash sauce? Hmm. I don’t think I’ve ever had squash in any form but the thought of it kind of scares me. But I know I need to try because this looks amazing!

  7. “Ugh. SALAD. Read: RANCH DRESSING.” Hilaaaaarious!!

    Also, I would make this pasta for the provolone, alone. So much yum.

  8. Getting back in the kitchen after the holidays IS rough. I’m impressed you stuck with this for 3 days! I probably would have just left that cheese in the freezer to turn gray or something…

  9. KaMmie @ Sensual Appeal says:

    Yu,m, this looks and sounds amazing and comforting. Saved

  10. Oh I love love love that you made a pasta dish *healthy* for the new year! I also love that it includes both squash and spinach – This is going on the grocery list for next week!

  11. This looks really good, I am always looking for something new to do with ground turkey that will keep it moist. I must make this. I also must tell myself to (not add bacon) LOL. This is an excellent veggie dish as well, if I substitute the meat maybe with mushrooms. YUM
    Thank you

  12. Whether it’s healthy or not, it looks delicious. Blessings for the New Year. Love your blog, keep up the amazing work. Can’t wait for the Food Blogger Pro!

  13. You had me at melted provolone!

  14. Baked pasta–so comforting and amazing! It looks so good. But I have to say–how is your freezer so empty?? As a foodblogger, aren’t you supposed to have fifty million things in there? Or it could just be me and my crazy stuffed freezer… :)

  15. That looks great! I love squash/cheese sauces on pasta. It is the perfect fake out healthy pasta sauce. I like the addition of spinach too, I wonder if kale would work as well.

  16. This is beautiful…and I’m so sorry about no spinach for six months!!!
    Anyways, you seem to roll with things well, so carry on.
    I’m telling everyone about my new favorite food blog, just so ya know! :)

  17. I’ll do it for the provolone! I WILL.

  18. Looks like constructive criticism is not your cup of tea…you deleted this comment I posted.
    “I love your recipes, and I appreciate the fact that you are trying to make a positive difference in the lives of Filipinos. However, I can’t help but notice your sense of superiority in your posts. The Philippines is a tropical country. The weather has always been like that. Unless you didn’t read up before going there, you should limit the whining and get over it. The dirt, the pollution, the poverty is not something for you to capitalize on so you can feel good about yourself. I know from your blog that you have a generous heart but your tone in most of your posts make you sound like you think you’re better than the people that surround you right now. If you’re thinking you’re different because you’ve been pampered all your life in your first world country, perhaps these people think they are different from you too because they are tough, that they know what a real problem is as opposed to your petty drama. I’m sorry if I offend you but I just get turned off whenever I observe your attitude when you write. Nobody forced you to be there, nor has anyone asked you to judge what a sorry life these people are living. A crash course on cultural sensitivity should have been suggested to you before you took that plane to Asia.”

    • Hi Mci, I read your first comment and responded via email. I didn’t feel like the comments section of a post was the appropriate place to have the conversation, which was my reason for taking it down. I’ll leave the re-post of your comment up so that you know to check your email.

  19. Reading this post is making me feel absolutely starving – it looks & sounds like the most delicious way to start the new year. Happy 2013 to you guys!

  20. I am completely drooling over that first picture. I cannot think of a better dinner in the cold winter months.

  21. My son will love this recipe!

  22. I have to try squash sauce soon. It sounds soo good.

  23. The more cheese the better – I could maybe even eat green bell peppers as long as the right amount of cheese was covering them 😉

  24. Yum, I love all excuses to eat pasta. Our family is cutting back on meat this year, so maybe this will be my first experiment into some sort of ground meat alternative. Yikes! Also, how do you have so few things in your freezer for how hot it is there?!

  25. hahahaah the freezer shot totally made me crack up. oh the perks of being a food blogger. :) I love this recipe Lindsay!! I eat a lot of veggies already, but I’m trying to think of unique recipes to incorporate them into my diet. I’m bookmarking this one!

  26. Now that it is winter in Chicago I am totally into new pasta dishes. This looks like a great recipe to try out. Happy New Year!

  27. that your freeze is empty enought to fit a cookie sheet of cheese…wow…love that…can not stand that mine is filled way too full that I lose site of what I have in there…this meal looks so good and I still have a squash to use up! Happy New Year.

  28. I love that you used turkey, love it! Happy New Year!!

  29. I would totally eat this for a week straight! I mean you’ve got the whole wheat and turkey so it’s definitely the perfect healthy, comfort-food type dish in my book.

  30. Hi Lindsay,
    I don’t have access to Provolone. In my fridge I have parmesan or cheddar. I really really want to make this tonight. Would one of those do as a substitute?

  31. This was good, good, good. I had to change a few things to use what I had on hand eg shredded turkey breast and cheddar cheese and man it tasted like heaven. Perfect for a winter’s day (and healthy to boot). Thank you for introducing me to squash sauce.

  32. I know what you mean about the spinach. I loved the fresh fruits and vegetables that are available in India, but I really used to miss lettuce when I was there. It was almost impossible to find! And I don’t find your tone to be superior at all. I think what you are doing is admirable, and living in another country is never easy, no matter how well prepared you are.

  33. I hope you are feeling better!! It would be so disconcerting to be sick like that in a different country!! Best wishes, my friend! This dish looks delicious, btw! I’m already craving it. . . .

  34. Another great recipe – how have I lived this long without your blog!?? Not only was this a healthy cozy meal on a cold snowy night I had enough leftovers to divide up for lunches for the rest of the work week. Glad you’re feeling better!

  35. Melanie @ Just Some Salt and Pepper says:

    This looks absolutely fabulous! And cheesy!

  36. Just made this again with some sausage instead of turkey. My supper guests finished every last mouthful. A keeper. Thank you.

  37. Please clarify on the amount of squash. Perhaps by cups or pounds. Thank you.

  38. This is amazing! I love it:)

  39. Oh my goodness!!!! I just made this….with just a few minor changes based on what was in my house…..soooooo yummy!!!!!

  40. I’m such a sucker for baked pasta dishes…this looks amazing!! You had me at provolone…

  41. I’m making this right now & the sauce is delish all by its lonesome. My 1yr old & I are eating some like soup as I type. I can’t wait until the whole thing is done!

  42. OMG, this dish is amazing! I made it last night not too sure what to expect but it was fantastic! I did cheat and buy the frozen butternut squash but it’s still delicious.

  43. Lindsay – you’ve inspired me to make a squash-based sauce for the first time…but given that I haven’t worked with it before (beyond just enjoying squash roasted..yum!), I am wondering whether I can make this midday and just stick it in the fridge until I bake it. Will the sauce firm up or thicken too much if I do that? I suppose I could add some extra broth to it just before baking if you think it might get too thick. Any thoughts? Thank you!

    • Yes, I think so! Just add a little water or broth if you need to make it a little saucier later on.

      • Thank you! My day fell all to pieces so I was only able to make this about an hour before putting it in the oven. The sauce was still nice and gooey, and it worked just fine. I never told the fam what was in it and managed to get humbs up from all…you should have seen their faces when I told them what was in it :) Next time I may jazz up the meat with a sausage just to add some zing! but otherwise this was FAB!

  44. Instructions mention to transfer 1/2 c broth to the blender. What do I do with the rest of the broth? 4 cups seems like a lot. Is that what I cook the pasta in?

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