Pasta with Turkey and Sweet Pepper Ragu

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Eating a healthier diet does not mean you have to sacrifice on taste, and this dish is proof of that.

We love a good beef bolognese as much as anyone. But, if you’re looking to eat healthier, this ragu with lean ground turkey and sweet bell peppers is your answer. The perfect weeknight meal and leftovers are even better the next day!

A straight-on view of a white pasta bowl that is full of pasta with turkey and sweet pepper ragu topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

How To Make Pasta with Turkey and Sweet Pepper Ragu

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The Ingredients You Will Need

The ingredients in this dish are not exotic at all, and can even be adapted to your own tastes. Here’s what you’ll need to have on hand:

Oil – Olive oil or extra-virgin olive oil.
Onion – Chopped.
Garlic – Minced.
Turkey – Ground, 85% lean, or 99% lean (you won’t have as much flavor, but it’s the healthiest option). We prefer 85% lean.
Seasoning – Salt and pepper.
White wine – Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc works perfectly. If you don’t want to cook with wine, substitute chicken or vegetable stock.
Broth – Chicken or vegetable.
Tomatoes – Whole San Marzano (certified) are wonderful. Squeeze them by hand into the skillet.
Oregano – Dried work wonderfully.
Bay leaves – Fresh or dried will work.
Sweet bell peppers – Red, yellow, and/or orange. Cut into equal-sized strips, about 1 inch.
Pasta – Spaghetti, bucatini, linguine, or fettuccini are all great choices. You can use smaller tubular pasta, too, such as penne, ziti, or tortellini.
Cheese – Freshly grated Parmesan is fantastic.
Parsley – Fresh and chopped for garnish. This is optional, but it adds a nice contrast of color to the dish.

EXPERT TIP: As mentioned, we love using a medley of sweet bell peppers. We don’t recommend green bell peppers, although, they would be just fine. The sweetness of the red, orange, and yellow peppers impart a delicious flavor to the ragu.

A person dumping strips of red, yellow, and orange bell peppers into a skillet filled with a simmering sauce with ground turkey.

Tips for Making Perfect Pasta with Turkey and Sweet Pepper Ragu

Cook Veggies and Turkey First – Once the onions and garlic are soften, you’ll want to add the turkey and cook until nicely brown. A healthy pinch of salt and pepper seasons the turkey, which is key. Spoon off excess grease and discard safely.

Use a Variety of Peppers – Each sweet pepper has its own distinct taste and a variety adds depth of flavor. When cutting them up, keep them uniform in size so they will cook evenly.

Season the Sauce – Dried oregano and bay leaves add a wonderful depth to the flavor profile, but don’t under salt the sauce. Taste and add more oregano and/or salt, until it is the right balance.

Cook the Pasta al Denté – The pasta should have a little resistance when bitten, but it should be tough. Add a spoonful of the prepared ragu to a hot skillet and then add the cooked pasta. Toss to coat, add a little pasta cooking water, and then add the rest of the sauce. This helps for even distribution of sauce of the pasta.

EXPERT TIP: Allowing the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes helps to deepen the flavors. Don’t add the peppers until the final 15 minutes of simmering. They will become soft, but not mushy after 15 minutes of simmering.

A close-up view of a large silver skillet filled with a ground turkey and sweet pepper ragu with a wooden spatula inserted in the middle of the sauce.

How To Serve

You can easily bring the skillet with the pasta and ragu mixed together directly to the table. Or, you can transfer the mixture to a large pasta bowl and allow family or guests to serve themselves.

The sauce can be made up to 24 hours in advance.

Be sure to have plenty of freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano on hand. We prefer having a block of cheese with a microplane or zester so you’ll have extra-freshly shaved cheese.

Leftovers are amazing. Simply reheat in a skillet with a few splashes of chicken or vegetable sauce.

A turkey and sweet pepper ragu being transferred from one skillet into another skillet that is filled with cooked bucatini pasta.

Other “Healthier” Recipes to Try

When you’re counting calories, there are plenty of recipes that you can turn to that are delicious and still good for you. Here are a few of our favorites that we’re sure you and your family will love, too:

Homemade Chili with Ground Turkey
Stuffed Bell Peppers with Turkey and Rice
Curry Turkey Burgers with Pineapple
Vegetable Stir-Fry
Black Bean and Vegetable Chili
Pappardelle with Seasonal Vegetables
Mediterranean Baked Snapper
Seared Tuna Steaks with Tomatoes and Black Olives
Blackened Salmon with Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Pan-Seared Halibut with Vegetables

These are all amazing, without a doubt. But, in the meantime, isn’t this stunning dish calling your name?

An overhead view of a large pasta bowl filled with pasta with turkey and sweet pepper ragu and surrounded by a glass of white wine and Italian bread.

There is so much to love about this incredibly flavorful pasta dish.

First and foremost is taste. And it doesn’t hurt that the lean ground turkey is a healthier option than red meat.

However, if desired, you can substitute any protein of your choosing. We’ve made this with ground lamb and it is wonderful.

Every bite is better than the last!

A close-up view of a fork that is being held up and is holding bucatini pasta and ground turkey with yellow sweet peppers.

Ready to make the tastiest (and healthier) pasta in town? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

An overhead view of a large pasta bowl filled with pasta with turkey and sweet pepper ragu and surrounded by a glass of white wine and Italian bread.

Pasta with Turkey and Sweet Pepper Ragu

This dish can be made with your protein of choice, but turkey is healthier and truly delicious in this recipe. Use your favorite choice of pasta. We like bucatini, but spaghetti or linguine works great, too.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entree
Cuisine: American / Italian
Keyword: healthy pasta dish, how to make turkey ragu
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4
Calories: 446kcal


  • 1 Large skillet 10 to 12"


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lb turkey ground: 85% lean (or 99% for extra lean)
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup white wine dry
  • 8 oz pasta bucatini, spaghetti, linguine
  • 1 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 28.5 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves fresh or dried
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 3 sweet bell peppers red, yellow, and/or orange - seeded and cut into bite-size strips.
  • Parmesan cheese grated, for garnish
  • 2 tbsp Italian parsley chopped, for garnish (optional)


  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking until aromatic, 30 seconds more.
    2 tbsp olive oil, ½ cup onion, 3 cloves garlic
  • Add the turkey and break it up with a wooden spatula or spoon. Cook until no longer pink. If desired, tilt the skillet, push the cooked turkey to the side, and use a large spoon to remove most of the rendered grease. Discard safely.
    1 lb turkey
  • Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over the cooked turkey and stir to combine.
    Salt and pepper
  • Stir in the wine and cook until most of it has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
    ½ cup white wine
  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of liberally salted water to a boil.
    8 oz pasta
  • To the skillet, add the stock. Add the whole tomatoes, squeezing them with your hands as you add them to the skillet. Pour in the liquid from the tomatoes. Stir in the bay leaves, oregano, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
    1 cup chicken stock, 1 28.5 oz can whole tomatoes, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp oregano
  • Stir in the bell peppers and simmer for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    3 sweet bell peppers
  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions, to al denté.
  • Remove the bay leaves from the sauce.
  • Save 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and then add about 1 cup of the sauce. Add the pasta and use tongs to coat the pasta with the sauce. Add the remaining sauce and a little of the reserved pasta water. Mix until fully combined.
  • Serve immediately with grated parmesan and chopped parsley (if using) on the side.
    Parmesan cheese, 2 tbsp Italian parsley


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. 
Use any pasta of your choice. Bucatini is a thicker tubular spaghetti pasta that the sauce sticks to. But, spaghetti, linguine, fettuccini, or even short pasta (penne, rigatoni) works great, too. 
Leftovers will keep covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat over medium heat on the stove or microwave on HIGH in 1-minute intervals until heated through. The sauce freezes nicely for 2 to 3 months. 


Calories: 446kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 183mg | Potassium: 448mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 230IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 2mg
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