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Playing Italian Shepherd's Pie


  • 1 1/2 pounds mini penne or any mini short-cut pasta (whole wheat pasta can be substituted)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3 pounds ground turkey
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium or 1 huge softball-size onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons (2 palmfuls) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (eyeball it)
  • 2 cups shredded provolone
  • 1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese, plus additional


Serves: 8 servings




Preheat oven 400F.



Place a large pot filled with water over high heat and bring up to a boil to cook the pasta. Once boiling, add some salt and the pasta, and cook until al dente according to package directions. Drain well and transfer pasta back to the cooking pot.



While the water is coming up to a boil for the pasta, place a large skillet over high heat with 3 turns of the pan EVOO, about 3 tablespoons. Once the oil starts to ripple, add the ground turkey and break it up into small pieces as it cooks using the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Cook until the turkey is nice and brown, about 8-10 minutes.



Add all the veggies to the turkey and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock, tomato paste, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for 5 more minutes, stirring every now and then.



While the veggies and turkey are cooking, place a medium-size saucepot over medium heat with the butter. Once the butter melts, add the flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly so the flour doesn't burn. Whisk in the milk and the rest of the chicken stock and bring up to a simmer and cook until it has thickened. Once thick, turn off the heat, add both cheeses to the pot and stir until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.



Cover the bottom of a large, oven-safe baking dish with the turkey and veggie mixture. Meanwhile, add the cheese sauce to the drained pasta in the pasta pot. Stir to coat then transfer the cheesy pasta to the baking dish. Spread it out to cover the turkey mixture evenly. Sprinkle the top with a little extra Asiago, place in the oven and bake until the top is golden brown, about 10 minutes.



Serve with a green salad and your favorite vinaigrette alongside.