Thursday, March 14, 2013

Easy Turkey Bolognese

As much as I love stick-to-your-ribs comfort food, sometimes it's nice to have a lighter version of my favorites for days when I want bold flavor without all the heaviness that often accompanies traditional comfort food.  This Easy Turkey Bolognese is a perfect example of a lightened up classic.  Not only is it quick to make, it's incredibly healthy.  While I served mine on regular pasta, you could certainly substitute whole wheat or even spaghetti squash for a seriously good-for-you dinner.

In under an hour (during most of which the sauce will take care of itself), you'll have a meal that tastes like it simmered on the stove all day.  Despite using extra lean ground turkey breast, the sauce has a heartiness that is irresistible.  This meal is perfect for a week night but certainly presents itself as fancy enough to serve to company.

Easy Turkey Bolognese
adapted slightly from Heather's Dish

1 whole onion, finely chopped
3 large carrots, finely chopped*
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. extra lean ground turkey breast
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
8 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 lb. cooked pasta of your choice (I used fusilli)
Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.  Once the pan and oil are hot, add the onion and carrots to the pan, stirring to coat with oil.  Put a lid on the pan and let them cook for 10 minutes; this helps to soften the tough vegetables and speeds the rest of the cooking process.

After 10 minutes have passed, remove the lid, add the garlic and continue to saute for another minute.  Next, add the ground turkey, breaking it up with your spoon, and cook until no pink remains.  Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes: stir to combine.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat, cover the pan and let cook for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid and check for seasonings, adjusting if needed.  You can serve the bolognese as is, or allow it to simmer longer on the stove to reduce a bit and further deepen in flavor.  (I let mine simmer, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes while I prepared my pasta.)

Serve over pasta with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

*I processed my onion and carrots in a food processor to save the time of chopping them.


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