This Pesto Turkey Skillet is an easy 30-minute dinner loaded with vegetables and fresh flavors! Lean ground turkey, pasta, and pesto is a delicious combination and perfect for a weeknight dinner.
I’m always experimenting with different ways to use ground turkey and this Pesto Turkey Skillet is a new favorite. Veggies, pasta and lean turkey tossed with a light pesto sauce is so delicious.
It’s a 30-minute dinner recipe – my most favorite kind! – that’s full of vegetables like peas, corn and zucchini. It’s a complete dinner with meat, pasta and veggies with a light and flavorful pesto sauce. No need to make extra side dishes to go with it.
Ground Turkey with Pesto and Orzo is a Quick 30-Minute Meal
For this recipe I love to use orzo which is a little pasta shape that looks a lot like rice. If you can’t find it you can use other small pasta like ditalini or even elbow macaroni.
I like to cook the pasta first and, while it’s boiling, start on the rest of the recipe. Here are the other ingredients you’ll need:
- Ground turkey
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Diced yellow onion
- Minced garlic
- Diced zucchini
- Frozen corn
- Frozen peas
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the turkey in a large skillet until it’s no longer pink. Add the salt and pepper while it’s cooking, and, once it’s done, drain off the excess fat in the pan. Transfer the cooked turkey to a plate.
In the same skillet, heat the olive oil and then add the onion and cook them for about three minutes. Add the garlic and cook it with the onions for a minute.
Add the zucchini and cook it just until it starts to brown in places and then add the peas and corn and stir to combine. Cook them together until all of the veggies are warmed through.
Add the turkey back to the pan along with the cooked orzo and some of the pasta water. Add the pesto and cheese and stir. Once it’s warmed through it’s ready to serve.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- For the orzo, be sure to drain it using a fine-mesh strainer instead of a regular colander. This will ensure the pasta doesn’t fall through the holes!
- Before you drain the pasta reserve some of the starchy cooking water. You will add it to the skillet and it will help create the sauce for the dish.
- If you want to make this recipe a one pot meal, boil the pasta first and drain it. Then use the same pot to make the rest of the recipe instead of a separate skillet. It will take longer than 30 minutes to make this way, but you’ll have one less pot to wash!
- For the salt and pepper, I like to season the turkey while it’s cooking. Sometimes I add a little more salt and pepper at the end before I serve the dish. So, be sure to give it a taste and add more seasoning if you think it needs it.
- For the pesto, you can use homemade pesto or store-bought. If you use store-bought, I recommend buying the kind that is in the refrigerated section (usually near the produce). It tastes better than the shelf-stable jars of pesto.
- It adds a step, but I love this dish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It really does make a difference!
- I think this dish tastes best with ground turkey but you can substitute lean ground beef or even ground chicken if you like.
This pasta dinner won’t leave you weighed down after – it’s light, fresh and satisfying! It’s a great way to use up zucchini in the summer, too, although we tend to make it year-round. It’s so good – Enjoy!
Other Dinners You'll Enjoy
Pesto Turkey Skillet Recipe
- 1 cup uncooked orzo or other small pasta
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium zucchini diced
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2-3 tablespoons pesto
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook orzo according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before draining pasta. Note: orzo is a small pasta. When draining, use a mesh strainer not a traditional one.
- Meanwhile, cook turkey in a large skillet until cooked through and no longer pink, seasoning it with salt and pepper while cooking. Drain fat. Remove cooked turkey to a plate while preparing the rest of the dish.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Add the onion and cook until onions are almost translucent, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook one minute more.
- Add the zucchini and cook until zucchini just starts to get golden brown but is not yet translucent, about 2-3 minutes, then add peas and corn and cook until they are hot.
- Add the turkey back to the pan along with the drained orzo and reserved pasta water. Add pesto and cheese and stir, cooking just until the dish is heated through.
- Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot.
This Ground Turkey Skillet with pesto is a new favorite of ours for many reasons! It’s easy, flavorful, and loaded with veggies like peas, corn and zucchini making it a healthier option for dinner!
Mel is an IT guy turned blogger and is discovering his love of cooking and photography. If you ever have Fantasy Football questions, he's your guy.