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Talking Turkey - Turkey Pasta Bake

Friday, 23 March 2012
This is my entry for the for the BritMums Lean on Turkey competition, sponsored by http://www.leanonturkey.co.uk/

I've said before on my blog that we don't really eat turkey.  Hubby doesn't like it and my girls aren't that fussed with it either.  I reckon it's because they haven't tried the right turkey recipe yet ;o)

So with that in mind, I decided to substitute turkey for our usual meat of choice in a pasta bake.  They devoured it then happily asked for seconds.  Once they were full and contented I told them that what they had just eated was in fact Turkey Pasta Bake instead of their usual version. Mwahahahaha! They were all rather shocked, as you can imagine, but are keen to have it on the menu again and also try other turkey recipes.

If you want to try out some other fab turkey recipes check out Lean on Turkey which is all about inspiring families to use more fresh turkey in their weekly meals. As well as being great value, fresh turkey is really simple to cook with, high in protein, low in saturated fat and a good source of natural vitamins and minerals

In truly adventurous Utterly Scrummy style I involved them in cooking this recipe the second time that we cooked it for dinner.  My 11yo was a great help in the kitchen, my 9yo took some of the photos and also helped in the kitchen and my 5yo grated the cheese and helped locate all the ingredients in the fridge.
Here's how it went:

Turkey Pasta Bake
You could use a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes intead of the passata or a large jar of pasta sauce, just leave out the dried herbs and garlic if you are using a jar of sauce.  I thought about adding some breadcrumbs on top of the cheese sauce for a crunchy topping, I shall try it next time I make this recipe and let you know how it tastes.

300g dried pasta (any shape will do)
1 Tblsp olive oil
1 stick celery, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 pepper, diced (any colour will do)
2 onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
500g turkey mince
1 Tblsp tomato paste
700ml passata (I used 500ml passata and 1 tin of chopped tomatoes this time)
2 tsp dried mixed herbs

Cheese Sauce
50g butter
2 Tblsp plain flour
600ml milk
100g grated mature cheddar cheese

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water.  Drain the pasta well and then add it to the sauce you are about to make. 

Chop the celery, pepper, onion and carrot fairly small otherwise it will take forever to soften.

Whilst the pasta is boiling, heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot and pepper.  I cheated and used 3 cubes of crushed garlic from the freezer rather than faffing about crushing fresh garlic.

Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the carrot and celery have softened.  Add the turkey mince and then brown it, breaking it up as it cooks.

This part of the recipe took about 7 minutes for my 11yo to do. We tried to time things as we did them but it was a bit haphazard with 3 of us in a tiny kitchen.

Stir in the tomato paste, passata and dried mixed herbs.

Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes or until it thickens.  Stir the sauce occasionally so that it doesn't catch on the bottom of the saucepan.  Once the pasta has cooked, drain it well and then take the turkey and tomato sauce off the heat.  Mix the pasta through the sauce so the pasta doesn't get all soggy while you make the cheese sauce.

Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced.  Make the cheese sauce while the oven is preheating.   Grate the cheese, or get an assistant to help you.  My 5yo loves grating cheese (or carrots, onions, virtually anything edible in fact LOL).

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Once the butter is bubbling add the flour.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or so.  This helps your cheese sauce not to taste floury.

Gradually stir in the milk, whisking all the time so that the sauce doesn't become lumpy.  You should end up with a smooth sauce.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes until the sauce boils and thickens. 

Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the cheese.  Let the sauce cool for a few minutes.  

Put the pasta and turkey mixture into the oven proof dish and level the top.

Pour the cheese sauce over the top of the mince and pasta mixture.  Cover the dish with kitchen foil.  Bake at 180C for 15 minutes, then take off the foil and bake the dish for another 10 minutes or so until the top is lightly golden.  Take the pasta bake out of the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes and cool slightly then serve with either salad or mixed vegetables.

**This is a sponsored post**


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