** Updated 4/13/2020 **
Lightened-up Turkey Bolognese, a flavorful meaty sauce that's easy and ready in 30 minutes or less.
This easy bolognese sauce uses simple pantry ingredients that you may already have on hand. So, grab your favorite brand of marinara or pasta sauce along with some other simple ingredients and your favorite pasta noodles and let's get cooking. Before you know it, dinner will be served.
This recipe is thick, hearty, and ever so comforting. It's perfect as a make ahead or storing in the freezer for later.
- 2 pounds ground turkey (or ground beef)
- Onion powder
- Fresh minced garlic
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Italian seasoning
- Favorite store brand marinara sauce
- Diary (milk or coconut milk)
- Extra virgin olive oil
Pappardelle, spaghetti noodles, penne, other other shaped noodles
How to make bolognese sauce with turkey meat (short cut)
Place a saute pan over medium high heat and add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil add mince garlic and saute until garlic becomes fragrant. Add the ground turkey and season liberally with kosher salt, black pepper and onion powder and brown meat until it is no longer meat but do not overcook.
Add your favorite jarred marinara sauce to the browned turkey meat and bring to a simmer. If you have red wine, add a splash or 2 and continue to simmer to burn off alcohol. Taste and add more salt if needed and add Italian seasoning and continue to simmer.
If sauce is too thick, add about 1/4 cup of water to thin it out a little. (Note: you can also add pasta water instead in place of regular water for added flavor).
Allow turkey bolognese to simmer for at least 20 minutes before adding pasta noodles.
Do you add milk to bolognese
I recommend adding either milk or coconut milk to balance out the rich tomatoey flavor. If you decide to add coconut milk, please note that your bolognese will not taste like coconut I promise. Coconut milk adds a nice creamy texture and will also make your turkey bolognese diary-free.
Adding milk will also lighten up the color of the sauce.
Can you freeze turkey bolognese
You can certainly freeze turkey bolognese. It freezes very well when placed in an airtight container and can be kept in the freezer up to 4 months.
This is ideal for when you make an extra batch of bolognese whereby you can simply take it out of the freezer and defrost for those busy weeknights when you need dinner on the table fast.
If you decide to freeze bolognese, I do not recommend freezing it if you've already added pasta noodles.
Tips for using jarred pasta sauce
When opening up jarred pasta sauce, always allow it to simmer in a sauce pan instead of just pouring it over the top of a bed of pasta. You will not get the most flavor that way and that makes for boring pasta.
I suggest the follow:
- Saute minced garlic in extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat then add your favorite jar of marina or pasta sauce
- Add a splash or 2 of red wine to elevate the depth of flavor and allow the sauce to simmer while the alcohol burns off
- Season with kosher salt and Italian seasoning to enhance the flavor of the sauce and continue to simmer and adjust the taste accordingly
- Add a few tablespoons of milk, heavy cream, or coconut milk to the sauce for richness this makes your sauce creamy and less tomatoey which makes it even more delicious
- After simmering, turn off the heat and toss in some shredded parmesan cheese or creamy burrata
- Lastly, add in a nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil as a finishing touch
That's it... perfectly meaty turkey bolognese every time.
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30 Minute Turkey Bolognese
- 2 lb ground turkey
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus a drizzle as a finishing touch)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced (and/or onion, celery, carrots))
- 52 oz pasta sauce (favorite jarred sauce; 1 (28 oz jar) & 1/2 (24 oz jar) OR 2 (24 oz jars))
- 1/4 cup red wine (one of your favorites )
- 3 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning (to taste)
- 1-1/2 lbs pappardelle (or other pasta noodles)
- 4 tbsp milk or coconut milk (using coconut milk does not make bologneses taste like coconut)
- Follow instructions for cooking pasta just until al dente. Reserve about a cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- Place a skillet over medium high heat. Add extra virgin olive oil heat then add minced garlic and saute until fragrant. Pour in jarred marinara or pasta sauce and begin to let it simmer. Add red wine and continue to simmer for a few minutes until alcohol burns off.
- Add kosher salt, onion powder and Italian seasoning to taste while adjusting to suite your taste. Continue to simmer under low heat for approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Add milk or coconut milk. Gently stir until milk is combined. Turn off heat.
- Add pasta noodles and gently combine. Be careful of the sauce to pasta ratio so you will not end up with dry pasta. Add cheese and garnish with parsley (optional).
- Plate and enjoy
- Always cook your pasta noodles just until al dente
- Be mindful of the sauce to pasta ratio (pasta absorbs the sauce and you do not want to be left with a dried pasta dish)
- If you plan on freezing a batch of turkey bolognese, do not add in pasta noodles
- Add fresh minced garlic and/or onion celery, carrots
- Add a splash of your favorite red wine (it doesn't have to be expensive but definitely needs to be descent)
- Always season with kosher salt at a minimum (onion powder and Italian seasoning are great for enhancing the flavor
- For a bit of creaminess and to balance the rich sauce, add a few splashes of milk, heavy cream or coconut milk (I tend to use coconut milk)
- Don't be afraid to add cheese such as parm or if you want to be a little fancy burrata is excellent too