Easy Turkey Spaghetti for Picky Eaters

My husband, Matthew, is the pickiest eater I have ever met. He doesn’t like many things that even regular fussy eaters would, such as potatoes or cheese. He eats a select few vegetables, and will eat more if I hide them by blending them into a sauce or shredding them into meatballs. But sometimes I don’t want to take those extra steps.

So here is one of my recipes that is ‘Matthew-friendly’, without putting in any extra effort. A quick and easy pasta dish which still tastes good, and a little healthier than a traditional bolognese since it uses lean turkey instead of beef and pork. I know some picky eaters may be averse to pasta with red sauce, in which case, this recipe won’t be for them. But I am sure the vast majority will enjoy it.

Additions and Substitutions

The tomato paste is optional here. I do think it makes the dish better, but it’s still good without it, if you don’t want to open a can just for one tablespoon. I keep tomato paste in an ice cube tray in the freezer after encountering so many recipes that just use a little here and there. Each ice cube is about a tablespoon, which makes it easy to throw in recipes like this for more depth of flavor.

You can sub out the rosemary for another herb if you like, such as oregano, thyme, or an Italian herb blend.

If you have some red wine lying around, you can add in a generous splash with the tomato sauce.

How to Make Easy Turkey Spaghetti for Picky Eaters

Cook Pasta

I suggest you start heating the pasta water and then move on immediately to the rest of the recipe, adding in the pasta whenever the water is ready. This way you ensure your cooked pasta doesn’t have to sit around for too long, and the sauce can wait for the pasta for as long as necessary at a low simmer.

Heat water in a large pot—enough that your spaghetti will be submerged with just a little pushing down with a spoon. Once the water is boiling, generously salt it. I add about two teaspoons of kosher salt (or one teaspoon regular). Just make sure you’re adding more than a sprinkle. And do not add any oil to the water. It is a waste of oil, and will just ensure the pasta is too slippery to stick properly to the sauce.

Cook the spaghetti for as long as the package directions say, or a little less, if you want to make sure it’s al dente. To test if the pasta is ready, I usually just take out a piece and try it.

Once your pasta is cooked, remove about half a cup of the water and set it aside, as you may need it to finish your sauce. Then drain the spaghetti in a colander.

Cook Sauce

Put a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil and, when that’s shimmering, add in your ground turkey. Smoosh it up with a spoon so it’s in small pieces and cook, stirring every now and then, until it’s lightly browned all over.

Now add in your garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add in the rosemary and tomato paste, if using, and stir for another minute or so, making sure the tomato paste is well-distributed.

Add in the tomato sauce and Worcestershire and stir to combine. Simmer over medium low heat for at least 5 minutes, but it’s fine to leave it for longer if your pasta is not ready yet. Before adding the pasta, taste the sauce and add salt and pepper as needed.

Combine Pasta and Sauce

Off heat, add the drained spaghetti to the skillet and toss to combine with the sauce. You may find the sauce isn’t quite as ‘saucy’ as you’d like. If that’s the case, stir in some of the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, until the sauce reaches your preferred consistency.


This makes four large servings or six smaller servings. The smaller is enough for me, and probably will be for more people. I put parmesan on top of mine; my husband of course, with his aversion to cheese, just eats it as is. Usually we eat a small salad on the side.

Easy Turkey Spaghetti for Picky Eaters

This pasta dish is quick, easy, and will appease picky eaters.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6


  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste optional
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • parmesan cheese, to taste optional


  • Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. If you want al dente pasta, cook for a minute or two less. Drain once cooked, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  • While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the turkey and break up with a spoon. Cook, stirring every now and then, until browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the rosemary and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add tomato sauce and Worcestershire and stir to combine. Simmer over medium low heat for at least 5 minutes, or until your pasta is ready. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Off heat, add the drained pasta to the skillet and stir well to combine. If the sauce seems a bit dry, stir in some of the pasta water, a little at a time, until the consistency is to your liking.
  • Serve right away with grated parmesan, if desired.

Did you make this recipe? If so, follow @theflavorvortex on Instagram and post a picture using #theflavorvortex as I would love to see it!

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