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Turkey Bolognese

This veggie-packed, nutritious, and flavor-loaded Turkey Bolognese is savory, filling, and easy to make -- the perfect weeknight meal.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword turkey bolognese
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 546kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup EACH: finely diced yellow onion, finely diced carrot, finely diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (~3-4 cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: dried thyme, dried basil, dried oregano
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 pound lean (93/7) ground turkey (See Note 1)
  • 1/2 cup 100% grape juice or beef broth or red wine (See Note 2)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (I highly recommend Muir Glen or Cento)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon powder
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: freshly chopped parsley or basil

Instructions

  • VEGGIES: Add 1 tablespoon oil to a large deep skillet/pot (one big enough to hold all the pasta later!) Heat to medium low, and add in the finely diced onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic and continue to cook and stir for an additional 3-5 minutes until vegetables are softened and straw colored (you don't want to brown the veggies; reduce the heat if they start browning). Move veggies to the sides of the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high.
  • GROUND TURKEY: Add the ground turkey to the center of the pan. Brown the turkey, crumbling and breaking it up as you stir. Cook 5-7 minutes or until mostly browned through. Drain any accumulated liquid from the ground turkey if needed. Add in the seasonings: the 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme, dried basil and dried oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper, I add 1/2 teaspoon of each. Stir. Immediately pour in the beef broth (See Note 2) and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook, stirring until juice is reduced in half, about 1-2 minutes.
  • SIMMER: Reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the tomato paste, bouillon powder, and Worcestershire sauce. Add in the crushed tomatoes and stir. Add in the bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until thickened and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust to personal preference adding more salt and pepper as needed. Also taste for sourness -- if you use high-quality tomatoes, it shouldn't be sour. On occasion, however, you might need to add a teaspoon or so of white sugar to balance out the acid.
  • SPAGHETTI: Meanwhile, follow package directions to cook the spaghetti to al dente. (Don't forget to salt the water generously! I add 1 teaspoon salt to every 4 cups of water.) Remove about 1 cup of the pasta water before draining the spaghetti -- you may needed it for emulsifying.
  • TWO WAYS TO SERVE: Either emulsify the pasta: (authentic way; see step #7) or just spoon the sauce over the cooked pasta.
  • GARNISH: Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or basil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese as desired.
  • To EMULSIFY: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Follow package directions to cook the pasta but DON'T DRAIN (yet!) Scoop out a cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. Now, you can drain the pasta. Add half of the Bolognese sauce to the pot used to cook the pasta. Add hot drained pasta right on top. Toss the pasta and sauce gently for a couple of minutes, slowly adding the reserved pasta water as needed until the sauce thickens and generously coats the pasta. (I usually only use about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water, but it varies depending on a lot of factors, so add just enough until you have a thick rich sauce coating the pasta).

Video

Notes

Note 1: I recommend getting lean (93/7) ground turkey as opposed to 99% lean ground turkey which tends to dry out and have very little flavor. If you can get ground turkey thigh meat, that's even better! Additionally, I recommend ground turkey from a carton as opposed to a chub (cylindrical package) -- it tends to have better flavor and is less watery.
Note 2: Traditional Bolognese uses wine instead of beef broth. If you'd like to go with wine instead, you can substitute a medium-body red wine such as pinot noir or merlot. You may need a pinch or two of sugar to counteract the acidity.

Nutrition

Calories: 546kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 541mg | Potassium: 589mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 205IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 3mg