Pink Pasta Sauce, also knows as pink sauce pasta, is a rich and creamy tomato sauce made with cream cheese, parmesan cheese and tomato puree. The addition of ground turkey and fresh spinach make this a satisfying and delicious weeknight dinner.
This creamy tomato sauce and pasta dish ended up being the perfect dinner for a busy weeknight. My family loved it and none of my kids turned their noses up at the sight of spinach mixed into their noodles.
Oddly enough, I had never heard of a pink sauce pasta recipe before I made this. It wasn't until I started writing my recipe and doing my research, that I realized I had made a version of pink sauce pasta!
Pink sauce, also called rose pasta sauce, is any tomato sauce recipe that has added heavy cream. It is a popular restaurant dish in the middle east, where they use heavy cream to turn the sauce into a pinkish orange color. Instead of heavy cream, I have used cream cheese. The cream cheese works perfectly to give the dish a rich & creamy flavor without being too heavy.
I would describe the flavor of pink sauce to be a combination of red sauce and alfredo sauce, kind of similar to vodka sauce. If you love alfredo sauce, then you have to try my Pesto Turkey Meatballs with Alfredo Sauce.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Gluten free (if made with GF pasta)
- Makes a large quantity which means leftovers for the week!
- Reheats well
- Excellent for meal prep
- Balanced all-in-one meal - contains protein, carbs, fat & veggies
- Pasta - I used Bionaturae Organic Gluten Free Rice & Lentil Pasta for this recipe. I love that the lentil flour sneaks in 8 grams of protein per serving. You can use whatever pasta that you prefer though. If you don't need this recipe to be gluten free and also do not like the taste of GF pasta, then go ahead and use your favorite pasta!
- Ground turkey - I always purchase lean ground turkey that is about 85-93% lean. Not fat-free or 98-99% fat free lean ground turkey. Fat adds flavor and moisture to ground turkey. When you remove too much of the fat you risk having dry and bland meat.
- Cherry tomatoes - Cherry tomatoes are on average, the size of a golf ball. They tend to be sweeter than large tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes are both similar in size and flavor and can be used interchangeably in this recipe.
- Onions - You can use either a white or a yellow (brown) onion for this recipe. Either variety will work. White onions tend to be a little milder and sweeter than yellow onions. You can learn about the different types of onions here.
- Garlic - You can use either fresh garlic or minced garlic that comes in a jar. I usually have a jar of garlic in my refrigerator. I prefer the ease and convenience of having it ready to use. If you are using fresh garlic cloves, then simply mince the garlic yourself
- Tomato puree - Tomato puree is a thick sauce made from tomatoes. The tomatoes are cooked, strained and blended into a sauce. Tomato puree has a thicker consistency than tomato sauce, as well as a deeper flavor. Tomato puree is not as thick as tomato paste.
- Cream cheese - Cream cheese is a soft, mild cheese made from milk and cream. Cream cheese is what turns the tomato sauce in this recipe from red to pink.
- Shredded parmesan cheese - Parmesan cheese contrasts the mild cream cheese with a sharp and salty flavor.
- Fresh spinach - Fresh spinach gets mixed in at the end of cook time to add flavor, nutrition and some color.
- Salt, black pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano, garlic powder, dried basil - All of these herbs and seasonings are used to flavor and enhance this delicious pasta dish! You can substitute out the dried herbs for an Italian seasoning blend if needed.
Kitchen tools needed
- Stovetop skillets - You will need 1 medium-sized skillet to cook the ground turkey and an additional skillet to cook the tomato cream sauce.
- Large pasta pot - This is needed to cook the pasta
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Cutting board & chopping knife
- Slotted spoon - This is helpful when transferring the ground turkey to the rose sauce (pink sauce).
Step 1: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Salt the pasta water and add in the pasta. Cook the pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta water. Drain the cooked pasta and set aside.
Step 2:- While the pasta cooks, cook the ground turkey in a medium-sized skillet. Season the turkey with salt, pepper and garlic powder. When the turkey is fully-cooked and no longer pink, remove from heat, drain off excess liquid and set aside.
Step 3:- In a large skillet, sauté the onion, garlic and cherry tomatoes in olive oil until the tomatoes are soft and bubbling. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil and dried thyme.
Step 4: Add the canned tomato puree to the cherry tomato skillet. Mix well and bring to a light simmer over medium heat. Turn heat to low and stir in the cream cheese and the shredded parmesan cheese. Cook until the cheeses have melted and you have a light and creamy sauce.
Step 5: Remove from heat and add the fresh spinach. Mix the spinach into the sauce until the spinach begins to wilt. Add in the ground turkey and cooked pasta and mix until thoroughly combined. If the sauce is too thick, add in the reserved pasta water. Start with ¼ cup and slowly add more until you achieve your desired consistency. I only add about ½ cup because I prefer a thicker sauce.
Step 6: Serve and enjoy! This dish reheats well so you can make it in advance if you'd like and reheat it in the microwave or on the stove top when you're ready to eat.
- Ground turkey - If you don't have ground turkey, substitute in ground chicken, ground pork or ground beef. Make it vegetarian and substitute in a ground meat alternative like Gardein Beefless Ground.
- Fresh spinach - Substitutions for fresh spinach include kale and swiss chard. You could also avoid fresh greens completely and substitute in broccoli or cauliflower.
- Pasta - I have been loving Bionaturae GF pasta. You can choose whichever pasta you prefer though! Elbow macaroni or penne pasta would both work well.
- Make it spicy! Add some crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat!
- Add fresh herbs! Add some fresh basil or fresh parsley for garnish when you're ready to serve. The flavor of both herbs would lend well to this recipe.
Pink Pasta Sauce with Ground Turkey would pair well with my Garlic Bread Recipe. It would also go well with a simple garden salad, fresh rolls and white wine.
Pink sauce pasta will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge, stored in an air-tight container.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have not tried freezing this yet myself. However, after some research, many experts indicate that freezing a tomato cream sauce is perfectly fine. Some have said that the texture of the sauce may change slightly during thawing though, and become somewhat grainy.
Yes! I think it would be delicious on tortellini, ravioli, stuffed shells or spaghetti.
They are similar in the fact that they both contain cream. Vodka sauce contains an additional ingredient though, vodka!
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