Winter Recipe to Try: Baked Rigatoni & Wild Turkey Meatballs

January 8, 2018 NEBRASKAland Magazine

A pasta casserole with turkey, mushrooms and bacon

The recipe is easy and the end result is delicious. By Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Simple to put together and filling, I love a good baked pasta dish. And having discovered some beautiful velvet pioppini mushrooms at the grocery store, I added them to this casserole for texture and a woodsy flavor that complemented the ground turkey meatballs. However, you may use any mushroom you prefer. The ground meat came from the thighs and legs of a wild turkey, and I didn’t miss the red meat. This pasta dish also makes great leftovers.

Servings: 6 – 8

Prep Time: 15 minutes   

Cooking Time: 1 hour 


  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  •  4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 8 ounces of any mushroom
  • 2 14-ounce cans of chopped Italian tomatoes
  • 1⁄3 cup of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  •  1 pound of uncooked rigatoni pasta
  • 8 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1⁄3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling


  • 1 pound of ground wild turkey
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup of Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Bring a pot of water to a boil with a generous pinch of salt. Cook rigatoni pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain and set aside, reserving some of the cooking liquid for later.
  2. To make meatballs, combine ground turkey, egg, ¼ cup of grated Parmesan, parsley, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Roll into balls and place on parchment paper to avoid sticking. In a large frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, fry meatballs until browned on all sides. Remove meatballs, drain on paper towels and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, lower heat to medium and render chopped bacon in the remaining oil, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms to the bacon and sauté for 5 minutes. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Next, add tomatoes with juice and parsley.
  4. Simmer until thickened, 10-20 minutes.
  5. Take the tomato sauce off the heat. In a large bowl, combine cooked rigatoni pasta, tomato sauce, meatballs, grated mozzarella cheese, ricotta and 1⁄3 cup of grated Parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste and, if necessary, add some reserved pasta liquid to keep mixture moist.
  6. Transfer pasta mixture to a large baking dish. Sprinkle more grated Parmesan cheese on top.
  7. Bake pasta for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven or until the top turns golden and the cheese has melted.■

By Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

This recipe and photograph originally appeared on Jones Dairy Farm’s website.

Follow NEBRASKAland on Instagram

The post Winter Recipe to Try: Baked Rigatoni & Wild Turkey Meatballs appeared first on NEBRASKALand Magazine.

Previous Article
Ice Fishing To-Bring Checklist
Ice Fishing To-Bring Checklist

When heading out on frozen lakes or ponds to ice fish, you won’t want to leave home without these important...

Next Article

Yes, it is a new year and yes, we have a new Fishing Forecast and Fishing Guide.  We are still awaiting del...