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Course » Pink Pasta Sauce – Tomato Cream Sauce with Ground Turkey

Pink Pasta Sauce is a rich and creamy tomato sauce made with cream cheese and parmesan cheese. The addition of ground turkey and fresh spinach make this a satisfying and delicious all-in-one meal.

I created this recipe in early August when I had an abundance of garden fresh tomatoes to use up. I made it up as I went along, using ingredients that I had on-hand. It was such a hit with my family though, so I knew it had to go on my blog!

What is pink pasta sauce?

Pink sauce, also known as pink pasta sauce or pink sauce pasta, is any tomato sauce recipe that has added 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.

Recipe Highlights

  • Gluten free (if made with GF pasta)
  • Makes a large quantity
  • Reheats well
  • Excellent for meal prep
  • Balanced all-in-one meal – contains protein, carbs, fat & veggies

Ingredients

Image of ingredients needed for pink pasta sauce. All ingredients are labeled.
  • 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 minced 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.
  • 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, 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!

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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

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Image of Pink Pasta Sauce - Tomato Cream Sauce with Ground Turkey & Spinach for Pinterest.

How to make

  1. Chop – Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and dice 1/2 of a medium-sized yellow onion.
  2. Cook – Fill the large pasta pot with water and bring to a boil. Salt the pasta water and add in the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta water. Drain the cooked pasta and set aside.
  3. Cook – Cook the ground turkey in a medium-sized skillet. Season the turkey with salt, pepper and garlic powder. When the turkey is fully-cooked, remove from heat, drain off excess liquid and set aside.
  4. Sauté – In a new skillet, sauté the onion, garlic and cherry tomatoes until the tomatoes are soft and bubbling. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil and dried thyme.
  5. Add – Add the canned tomato puree to the cherry tomato skillet. Mix well and bring to a light simmer. Turn heat to low and stir in the cream cheese and the shredded parmesan cheese. Cook until the cheeses have melted and the sauce is light and creamy.
  6. Mix – 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 1/4 cup and slowly add more until you achieve your desired consistency. I only add about 1/2 cup because I prefer a thicker sauce.
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Pink pasta sauce over gluten free pasta tossed with ground turkey, fresh spinach and parmesan cheese.

Pink Pasta Sauce – Tomato Cream Sauce with Ground Turkey


  • Author: Katie
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Pink Pasta Sauce is a rich and creamy tomato sauce made with cream cheese and parmesan cheese. The addition of ground turkey and fresh spinach make this a satisfying and delicious all-in-one meal.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 ounces gluten free pasta
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 pint halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato puree
  • 1 block cream cheese (8 ounces)
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (divided)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.  Once cooked, drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.  Cook the ground turkey and seasonings over medium heat until fully cooked and no longer pink in the middle.  Remove from heat.  Carefully drain excess liquid out of the pan.  Set aside.  
  3. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the cherry tomatoes, diced onions, minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil and dried thyme.  Cook until the tomatoes are soft, bubbly and falling apart, about 3-5 minutes. 
  4. Add the tomato puree and continue cooking for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the block of cream cheese and the shredded parmesan cheese.  Stir the cheeses in until melted and thoroughly combined. This is when your pasta sauce will turn from red to pink/orange. 
  6. Remove from heat. Mix in the fresh spinach until the spinach softens and wilts.
  7. Add the ground turkey and the cooked pasta.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  If your Pink Pasta Sauce is too thick, slowly add some of the reserved pasta water to thin it out.  I prefer to add 1/2 cup. 
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • I made the original recipe using gluten free pasta, making this a gluten free recipe.  If you do not need the recipe to be gluten free, then you can use any pasta that you prefer.
  • This pasta dish will keep well in the refrigerator for 3-5 days if stored in a sealed, airtight container. 
  • Category: lunch, dinner
  • Method: stove top cooking
  • Cuisine: Italian American

Keywords: pink pasta sauce

Serving suggestions & substitutions

  • 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! Pick what you and your family will love.
  • Serving suggestions – Serve Pink Pasta Sauce with Ground Turkey with a side salad, additional steamed veggies or fresh-baked bread.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I freeze tomato cream sauce?

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.

Can I put tomato cream sauce on other types of pasta?

Yes! I think it would be delicious on tortellini, ravioli, stuffed shells or spaghetti.

Is pink pasta sauce the same as vodka sauce?

They are similar in the fact that they both contain cream. Vodka sauce contains an additional ingredient though, vodka!

Leave me questions and comments below!