Google defines comfort food like this: “Food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically any with a high sugar or other carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking.”
Wikipedia’s definition is similar but even more detailed: “kinds of food that provides a nostalgic or sentimental value to someone, and may be characterized by its high caloric nature, high carbohydrate level, or simple preparation. The nostalgia may be specific to an individual, or it may apply to a specific culture.”
I don’t know about you, but any kind of one-pan dish covered in cheese is definitely something that comes to mind when I think of comfort food. What I like even better is that there are ways to get that comfort food vibe without the “high caloric nature” that Wikipedia defines, and that’s exactly what this dish is.
This skillet meal is all about family friendly, warm, hearty, delicious, comforting AND healthy. Yeah it has carbs in the form of brown rice pasta, but carbs are healthy. Fight me.
Tips for success:
- Like all recipes, make sure you read the entire recipe and notes before you start.
- Make sure you adjust the heat after you put on the lid to simmer. You want this at a low simmer, not a boil.
- Stirring halfway through is also key so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. If you find it’s starting to stick, the heat is probably too high. Turn the heat down and you can stir in 1/2 cup of liquid (low sodium broth or water) to help with that.
Turkey Taco Mac Skillet
- 2 cups brown rice pasta shells (or brown rice elbows)
- 1 lb lean ground turkey (93/7) (or sub lean ground beef)
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (or sub 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 1 packet of gluten free taco seasoning (McCormick brand or Thrive Market are gluten free) or 2 tablespoons of my homemade taco seasoning
- 1 cup enchilada sauce
- 1/2 cup your favorite red salsa
- 1 cup water or low sodium broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
- 1 – 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes with juices
- Optional: 1 – 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- Optional: 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar or monterey jack cheese (regular or dairy free)
Optional Toppings and Serving suggestions: Avocado, Sour Cream, Cilantro, Salsa, Tortilla Chips
- In a large, high sided skillet or saucepan, brown 1 lb ground turkey. Break up the meat and cook until no pink remains.
- Add to the ground turkey, 1 small diced yellow onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder) and sauté for one minute.
- Add 1 packet of taco seasoning (do not add water called for on the packet), 1 cup enchilada sauce, 1 cup water or reduced sodium broth, 1/2 cup salsa, 1 can of petite diced tomatoes (undrained), and 1 can drained and rinsed beans, if using, and 2 cups brown rice pasta shells. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a simmer over low-medium heat. Put the lid on and simmer for 10 minutes (or however long the package of pasta indicates the cook time for your shape of pasta to be). Stir halfway through so that the bottom doesn’t stick. Add more time if necessary for the pasta to cook JUST until al dente.
- After the pasta has finished cooking, the dish is finished. Taste for salt.
- Optional: With the heat off: top with 3/4 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese or vegan cheddar cheese (more if desired) and place lid back on the skillet until cheese is melted. Serve and top with desired toppings.
Enchilada sauce and Taco Seasoning: Depending on the brand of enchilada sauce and taco seasoning, your mixture may be more or less runny and more or less salty. It’s important to taste for salt at the end to make sure your preferences are met.
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