Turkey Ragu. That’s what’s for dinner.

Now that the kids are on summer vacation I find we’re almost busier than during the school year. Trips to the pool, adventures at the park, lunches on the lawn, leave little time for thoughts of “what’s for dinner?” Nor do we really want to think about it when the sun is high, and so is the fun.

So after a long day of playground hopping, and Minecraft crafting, it was 5 o’clock and that bothersome question popped up once again. I went with my go-to healthy, but quick and tasty Penne with Turkey Ragu. Fresh basil makes this dish one of my favourites, along with a simple crushed tomato sauce and hearty ground turkey. I do modify the original a bit to suit my taste.

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The recipe calls for 2 leeks, chopped, along with 2 cloves of garlic, which I usually double. This girl loves her garlic.

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The recipe also calls for only 1/4 cup of basil, but it’s my favourite herb so I use way more. Along with some stems from my herb pot, I usually use one of those large bags of basil you find in the produce department at Safeway. I think this adds an amazing fresh flavour.

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Once you’ve hand crushed your San Marano tomatoes (watch out, no matter how many times I make this dish I always get splash back when I squeeze those juicy suckers) you’re supposed to add 2 cups of water. I usually go with 1, or 1 1/2, as I don’t like the sauce too watery.

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They also suggest reserving some of the pasta water to toss with the noodle mixture at the end, but I usually skip that since I don’t mind my noodles being well-coated in the simmered sauce.

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We usually serve this up with fresh veg, or salad, and some focaccia or my favourite homemade soft bread sticks

One dinner down, millions more to go!

Penne with Turkey Ragu

Ingredients
Salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks (white and light green parts only), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces ground turkey
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped, plus more for topping
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus the rind (optional)
12 ounces penne
2 tablespoons half-and-half

Directions
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic and turkey and cook, stirring, until the turkey browns slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high, bring the sauce to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add half of the basil and the parmesan rind and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Stir the half-and-half, the remaining basil and 2 tablespoons cheese into the sauce. Add the pasta and toss to coat, adding some of the reserved pasta water to loosen, if needed. Remove the parmesan rind and season with salt and pepper.

Divide the pasta among bowls. Top with the remaining 1 tablespoon cheese and more basil.