Turkey Bolognese [RECIPE]

Turkey Bolognese

Riffing on a traditional bolognese sauce, we use turkey here instead of beef or lamb.
(Photo by Jathan Fink, Jadeworks Entertainment)

In Italy, a true ragù alla bolognese sauce is made with beef or pork, but this recipe appeals to me because it is lower in fat (for those who need to avoid these meats for health or dietary reasons) and if you still have leftover turkey in the fridge, this is a nice way to help you utilize it. In any case, you’ll need one pound of turkey, whether you shred it yourself, buy it ground, or use Italian turkey sausage like I typically do. By definition, bolognese is a thick sauce packed with healthy veggies and served with tagliatelle pasta, however a pound of fettuccine or even spaghetti works here just as well.

PREP: 20 minutes
COOK: 30 minutes


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced or 1 4-ounce can mushrooms stems and pieces, drained
  • 1 pound shredded cooked turkey or 1 pound ground turkey or 1 pound Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 3 cups homemade marinara sauce or 1 24-ounce jar of your favorite store bought marinara sauce (I recommend Bove’s or Rao’s sauces)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves or 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • Kosher salt and freshlgy ground black pepper
  • 1 pound tagliatelle pasta, fettuccine, or spaghetti
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Bring three quarts of water to a boil over high heat in a large sauce pan.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, heat oil in bottom of pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add carrot, celery and mushrooms, stir to combine; saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add turkey. If using cooked turkey, saute about 1 minute. If using fresh ground turkey or turkey sausage, cook until meat is browned and crumbled, stirring often so vegetables do not burn. Add the marinara sauce and the basil and stir. Lower heat to medium-low and allow sauce to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. While sauce is simmering away, add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions, minus one minute. This will keep your pasta slightly al dente. Once cooked, reserve a cup of water, then drain pasta completely. Add noodles directly to sauce and stir to coat. If the pasta looks a little dry, add enough of the reserved pasta water to moisten it up. Serve and top with fresh Parmesan.

TIP: This sauce freezes beautifully. If prepared in advance, cool the sauce completely, then transfer it to a resealable plastic bag and freeze flat. To serve, bring the sauce to room temperature, transfer to a pot and allow it to simmer before using.

YIELDS: 6 servings

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

One Response to Turkey Bolognese [RECIPE]

  1. Jathan Fink says:

    Reblogged this on Jadeworks Entertainment and commented:

    Still trying to find creative ways to serve up your leftover turkey? This easy and delicious bolognese sauce riffs on the Italian classic for a meal that is both hearty and healthy.

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