Cheesy Penne Italian Shepherd’s Pie


  • 1/2 pound mini penne (or any mini short-cut pasta) $0.74
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) ($0.40)
  • 1 pound ground turkey ($3.15)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped ($0.12)
  • 1 medium onion, diced ($0.69)
  • 3 medium carrots, diced ($0.51)
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced ($0.72)
  • 11/2 tablespoons tomato paste ($0.09)
  • 1 cup chicken stock, divided ($0.72)
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning ($0.16)
  • 3 tablespoons butter ($0.33)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour ($0.12)
  • 1 cup milk –(eyeball it) ($0.26)
  • 1 cup shredded provolone ($2.00)


Pre-heat oven to 400°F.

Place a large pot filled with water over high heat and bring to a boil to cook the pasta. Once boiling, add some salt and the pasta, and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Heads up — reserve a mug of starchy water before draining the cooked pasta. 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 and with 3 turns of the pan, add 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 the veggies and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, ½ cup chicken stock, half of the reserved starchy water, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for 10 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 starchy pasta water and chicken stock, bring to a simmer and cook until thickened. Once thick, turn off the heat, add the cheese 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 reserved 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. Place in the oven and bake until the top is golden brown, about 10 minutes.

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