Turkey, Spinach and Mozzarella Bake

This weekend I decided to get in touch with my non-existent Italian roots. Pasta bakes are something I love to make, as it is a quick and easy meal to prepare. This is basically pasta and sauce baked together.

My turkey, spinach and mozzarella bake is healthy, quick and budget friendly.

When I posted a video, few people asked me why I used turkey mince. The simple answer is – I prefer it over minced beef or lamb. I personally feel like it absorbs flavour a bit more than other meat. On the other hand, turkey has many health benefits too. It is high in protein, if it is skinless the meat is low in fat and helps lower cholesterol. Making it a good choice for a lean meal. It is a good source for iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. (more info – google the health benefits of turkey. Source: bodyandsoul.com.au).

With this recipe, you can feed up to 6-7 people for less than £1.50 per portion. All ingredients were bought from Tesco, I am aware Tesco is not available in every country but these ingredients can be found at your local super market. If you can’t find it, the recipe is flexible for you to substitute some of the ingredients.


Ingredients


Meat Sauce:

3 tbsp of olive oil
1 small onion
4 cloves of garlic
500g of turkey mince
800g of tinned chopped tomatoes
125g of Half fat Italian Mozzarella
2 tbsp of dried oregano
240g of spinach (1 bag of baby spinach from Tesco)

Pasta:

350g of Conchiglioni Rigate

Topping before baking:

50g of Parmigiano Reggiano
25g of garlic and herb croutons

Method:

    1.Firstly, you need to cook the pasta and keep it aside. Put the pasta into a pot and pour 1 ½ litre of hot water. Add a splash of olive oil and some salt to the water. Cook it for 9 minutes. The instructions say longer but because we are going to bake it, 9 minutes is more than enough. Take 1 cup of the water that the pasta is cooked in and set it aside, should the sauce be too thick this is what we will be using to thin it down. After this, drain it and keep it aside.

   2.Pour the oil into your saucepan/ iron casserole. I like to cook in a casserole because I can bake it in the same dish. Although it may seem like too much oil, as I mentioned turkey is low in fat so this is necessary. 

   3.Once the oil heats up, add the onion and garlic. Let it cook until it is slightly golden brown and soft.

    4.Now add the meat and let it cook.

   5.While cooking turkey, you will notice that it releases a lot of water. So, you need to cook it till all the water evaporates and the meat starts to brown a bit.

    6.Pre-heat the oven at 175* C.

   7.After this point you need to add the two tins of chopped tomatoes, ¼ cup of pasta water and let it simmer away for 10 minutes. This will reduce the water content in the sauce. At this point add the dried oregano and let it cook on low heat for another 3 minutes. Just because I love chili, I like to add some chili flakes too, but this is optional.

   8.The last thing is spinach. Because it does not take that long to cook, you should leave this till the end. As soon as the spinach wilts down, add the pasta and mix it well so you get a bit of everything with every bite. At this point if the sauce is too thick for your liking you can add some more of the pasta water. Pinch in ¾ of the mozzarella and mix in. The remaining ¼ scatter it over the top.

   9.Just before putting it in the oven – crush up some of the croutons (some powder and some chunks) and sprinkle it over the top with the Parmigiano Reggiano. This just adds a bit more flavour and texture to the whole dish.

    10. Bake it for 5 minutes. Turn it around and bake it for another 5 minutes.

    11.Serve it while it is still warm.

Alternatives:

- Whenever I make this, I always keep some of the sauce aside for my sister as she is gluten intolerant. She likes to eat it with gluten free pasta, on top of toast with some cheese etc.
- You can use minced beef or lamb.
- If you are into health – you can leave the pasta out and eat it with a dollop of sour cream.
- You can use this sauce to make nachos
- If you use only 1 tin of tomatoes you can even use it as pizza topping.

I hope you try this and if you do, please don’t forget to share it with me. #misstgeorge/ tag me @misstgeorge on Facebook or Instagram.

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