Bolognese with Turkey – A Hearty but Healthy Meal

turkey bolognese 
Bolognese sauce is a classic Italian pasta sauce that is hearty, delicious and satisfying.  Every once in a while I like to make classic dishes. The name Bolognese comes from its place of origin – in Bologna, Italy. There are many variations to this dish. The traditional Bolognese sauce uses ground beef but here I opted to use ground turkey.  I like that it’s a light, healthy version but still has the robust flavor of the classic Bolognese sauce.

Making the Turkey Bolognese

The preferred pasta choice for this dish is a flat pasta like tagliatelle or fettuccini.  Cooking this dish is quite easy.  It starts with browning the ground turkey in olive oil about five to seven  minutes.

browning the ground turkey in oil

Next is sweating the “soffrito”,  which is a blend of onions, celery and carrots.  Make sure the vegetables are finely diced.  If the pan gets dry, add a bit more olive oil.

Dry red wine is also added and reduced as well as plum tomatoes. Choose a red wine that you enjoy drinking for optimum flavor. I prefer using canned whole tomatoes because they are more flavorful.  Slowly simmering the sauce not only makes it thicker but also develops a deep flavor almost like a stew.  Who doesn’t like stew? The longer it is simmered, the better it gets.  I believe that is true here.  Don’t worry about one hour of simmering, it’s passive time.

Every time I make turkey Bolognese it hits me like “I should make this more this more often”.  This is a great satisfying dish to make for your family or when you are entertaining since you can start cooking the sauce an hour before your guests arrive.  While it is slowly simmering, you can  do other things like preparing your side dishes.  It’s nice to serve it with homemade garlic bread and a side of green salad.

Bolognese with Turkey - A Hearty but Healthy Meal

Fettucine with a hearty turkey bolognese sauce made of wine, garlic, onion, carrots, and celery.
Servings 4
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes


  • 8 oz. fettuccine pasta
  • ½ onion diced
  • 1 carrot peeled and /finely diced
  • ½ celery stalk finely diced
  • 1 24 oz. can of whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup red wine
  • Parmigianno-Reggiano cheese for serving
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Heat oil in a skillet or saute pan on medium/high heat. Brown ground turkey in the hot oil for 5-7 minutes turning once.
  • While turkey is browning, place tomatoes in a blender. Process the tomatoes until smooth.
  • Turn down heat to medium. Push the turkey to the side of the pan using a spoon or spatula. Add a bit more olive oil to the pan. Add in onions, celery and carrots. Let cook for 5 minutes stirring once.
  • Add red wine to the pan and let it reduce for 2 minutes. Mix in the pureed tomatoes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to your taste. Turn the heat down to low. Cover the pan partially. leaving a little opening at the edge and let simmer for one hour. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
  • Meanwhile, boil a pot of water for the pasta on high heat. When it comes to a boil, add fettuccini and some salt. Let it cook for 9 minutes. ( you can time adding the pasta in water in the last 10 minutes of simmering the sauce). Drain pasta well.
  • Add half of the sauce to the pasta and mix together. Serve with more of the sauce on top and freshly grated parmiggiano reggiano cheese.
Author: Elizabeth Segal
Course: Main Course

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