I think a simple and delicious weeknight bolognese is an absolute MUST in the recipe arsenal. So here you go. THIS is that.
Whenever I want dinner to feel extra easy… it usually starts with ground turkey. Since you don’t have to prep the meat ahead of time… no fat trimming, or marinating… no grilling… not a perfect bake time… you throw in a hot pan, season and brown, and it’s delicious. Add some veggies and spices, the best San Marzano tomatoes… and a few other add-ins and you’ve got a huge pot of belly and soul-warming bolognese for the week. Perfect for meal-prep since the leftovers only get better… throw it over pasta for the kids, and if you’re watching your carbs… spaghetti squash or zoodles or sometimes I’ll even just pile it on a bowl of steamed broccoli. Really whatever I have! It’s the flavor maker.
Don’t lose faith in me. I know that last one is weird. But it just doesn’t really matter what’s hiding underneath this hearty, comforting, meaty sauce. TRUST me.
What is Bolognese?
Pretty sure my mom made this weekly and called it meat sauce. So I’m just getting all fancy thanks to years of watching Ina and Martha back when I was nursing babies and could justify turning the TV on for a minute. Ha! Remember those days? So yes… it’s a meaty, tomato based sauce for all of your meaty tomato-y sauce needs. You’re welcome.
What you’ll need
- Lean ground turkey- 93/7.. this gives you just enough fat to get some flavor going on
- Extra lean ground turkey- 99% fat free… this one will bulk up the protein with almost no fat… keeping the fats low overall!
- Veggies: onions, carrots, celery
- San Marzano canned tomatoes— I’m not always a brand girl. I am with my canned tomatoes. These taste better… swear it. There’s a reason the most simple margherita pizzas we had in Naples were better than ANYWHERE else. They grow these sweet luscious tomatoes there in the rich volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius. They have a sweeter flavor and lower acidity than most. I get mine at Trader Joe’s.
- Tomato paste– you can live without it, but if you love a good homemade bolognese… you should grab one! They sell tubes at Trader Joe’s which is so much easier to store than the little cans!
- Wine– I’m NO EXPERT. And “they” always say not to cook with anything you wouldn’t drink. But since I don’t drink wine, I relieve myself of this standard and buy cheap cooking wine and I’m cool with it! Don’t kill me if you’re a wine connoisseur. I fully support you spending more money on yours.
- A few spices… garlic… some simmer time… and one of those cliche but NECESSARY smooches of all five fingers brought together to your lips (can you see it?) delicioso!
How you make turkey bolognese
- Cook your veggies till soft…stir in tomato paste… then add meat and brown… then wine– reduce a minute… garlic, spices and tomatoes!
- And that’s all!
See, so easy we can call it one step if we want. Ha. It works because I don’t have to use proper punctuation or full sentences… cuz it’s my blog.
I’ll break it down a bit below, but seriously. One pot… a few layers of ingredients while you fill your house with aromatic garlic and onions and simmering tomatoes. THE BEST.
What I love about a good bolognese, is that I know there’s so much good stuff in that pot, the rest of dinner can be super simple. I’ll boil a pot of pasta for the family, and roast a spaghetti squash for myself while the sauce simmers. Both of those things are mindless, so I don’t mind going two directions. Plus they both make great leftovers to keep pulling out with your bolognese all week. And I can honestly say that while I love pasta like the next human being that hasn’t repressed their natural love of carbs– I’m not ONE BIT jealous of the kids’ pasta. I actually PREFER this meaty, sweet and savory sauce all tangled up with with roasted spaghetti squash… the way it all combines is PERFECT.
Not to mention GIANT HEARTY DELICIOUS BOWL for baby carbs. Can’t beat it.
Especially because then you’ve got plenty of carbs for fresh french bread– to sop up any delicious spare sauce. No brainer. Sometimes we do a side salad. Sometimes I remember all the veggies I threw in that pot and call it good. Always, everyone mmmmmms through dinner and tells me I should make this more. For real.
Weeknight Healthy Turkey Bolognese
Disclaimer: the grams I’ve listed manually after each ingredient are accurate for a single recipe, but they will not multiply if you choose the 2x or 3x option. Please make sure and multiply on your own!
- Olive oil/cooking spray
- 1 onion diced 300 g
- 4 carrots chopped small 190 g
- 4 stalks celery chopped 150 g
- 1 tbs kosher salt
- A few grinds of fresh ground pepper
- 2 tbs 30 g tomato paste (I love the tube from Trader Joe’s for easy storage!)
- 1.6 lb 93/7 ground turkey I use one package of the foster farms from Costco- hence the random amount- anything close to this is fine.
- 1 lb extra lean 99/1 ground turkey I use Jenni O
- 1 cup red or white wine I just use cheap red cooking wine! But feel free to use something nicer.
- 8 frozen dorot cubes or fresh minced cloves
- 2 -28 oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes I get mine from Trader Joe’s- PULSED* in a blender
- 1 tbs dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Heat large heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Spray with olive oil cooking spray. Add onions, carrots, celery, and kosher salt/pepper to the pot and saute for 5-10 minutes until soft and caramelized. Add tomato paste and cook for another minute.
- Add ground turkey, breaking into pieces and brown for another 10 minutes or so until cooked through. Add wine and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring to deglaze any bits on the pan. Add garlic and sautee for another minute or two.
- Add the smooth PULSED canned tomatoes, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. Gently simmer for about 40 minutes. Pile on pasta or spaghetti squash for the most classic, comforting weeknight meal!
- I really think the San Marzano tomatoes have the most amazing quality and flavor, but of course you can use another brand. I get mine from Trader Joe’s. I already believed these were best from things I’d read, but after our trip to Italy in 2016 where we had the best pizza of our lives in Naples… it was confirmed. It’s all about the San Marzano tomatoes they grow in the rich volcanic soil out there.
- PULSE the tomatoes in a blender or food processor but don’t go crazy. You don’t want it to get all frothy. Just smooth.