Turkey Bolognese

Craving a rich, saucy pasta dish that’ll satisfy you at the end of the day? A bowl full of warm Bolognese sauce & pasta will do just the trick. This healthy version is filled with lean protein in the turkey, antioxidants from the red wine, & anti-inflammatory properties in the veggies. And… it is so darn delicious!

I like to think of this dish as the perfect date night recipe because:


It’s bold packing a flavor punch from the dry red wine. Enjoy the remainder of the bottle with dinner


Don’t know what they like? Well, who doesn’t love a good meat sauce pasta dish!


You can sound real fancy by learning to pronounce Bolognese. Many youtube lessons later, I still have yet to master the pronunciation

So why is this dish called Bolognese?

Bologna is a city in the northern part of Italy therefore Bolognese is meat sauce composed of ingredients that would be found in this region of Italy. Just think, northern Italy style ragu. This regional influence is tasted in ingredients like the dry red wine, herbs, & pasta of course. The dish is traditionally made with ground beef & cream, however, I opt for the turkey version using milk for a healthier option yet still hearty & popping with flavor.

Core Ingredients


Use a dry red wine like a chianti or cabernet. I use a cabernet because that’s what my husband & I typically have on hand. If your not a huge fan of a new wine, just put it in the back of the cabinet to cook with. It may not be the best in a glass, but it sure does bump up the flavor level in cooking.


For the turkey, I use the lean Jennie-O ground turkey with a 93/7% fat ratio along with Oscar Meyer turkey bacon. Like I said before, the traditional way of making this dish is to use ground beef. When feeling more traditional, there is an excellent lean ground beef I buy at Sam’s Club with the same 93/7% ratio keeping the dish lean & healthy. Check it out here!


Tomatoes, tomato paste, & the milk added to the meat & veggies

Adding milk to the Bolognese helps balance & bring all the flavors in the sauce come together in harmony. Queue the opera singing! My fridge holds 2% milk as a staple so that’s what I use. The 2% works well because the small amount of fat in the milk adds a touch of creaminess as the sauce simmers. If we’re talking traditional here, cream is used making it extra rich & creamy.


I prefer to use a combination of different dried herbs for maximum flavor. Be generous with herbs & don’t be afraid to play around with different herb combos.


What’s in your pantry… Spaghetti, bow tie, macaroni?? Sounds good to me! When it comes to the pasta any shape will be wonderful. Remember, the Bolognese sauce is the star here so the pasta is like the supporting actor.

One of my happy places is TJmaxx where I often buy pastas like this one!

My preference is to use a rigatoni or something similar to this because of the hollow shape. The meat sauce fills the rigatoni pastas & holds the sauce so your not looking down at the bottom of the bowl still saucy at the end.

A beauty of Bolognese is its flexibility. It can take on many variations whether it’s mixing it up with different herbs, using ground chicken, or your pick of milk. Whichever variation is cooked up, this dish is bound to be a favorite meal!

Turkey Bolognese

  • Servings: 4
  • Print


  • 1 medium red onion (diced)
  • 3 slices turkey bacon (diced)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 medium carrots (cut into 1/4inch pieces)
  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 11/2 cup milk
  • 14 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 8 oz pasta
  • parmesan to top


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium/high heat. Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil to skillet & add the onion & turkey bacon. Sauté until onion is slightly golden & bacon is browned. About 3-5 minutes.
  2. Toss in the garlic & carrots to skillet & continue to sauté until carrots are aromatic & slightly browned. About 3-5 more minutes.
  3. Push the bacon & onion mixture to the outside of the skillet leaving a space in the center of the pan. Add the ground turkey to the center of the skillet & break up into small pieces using a spatula. Once turkey is browned & broken into pieces, mix-in the bacon & onion mixture.
  4. Reduce heat to medium. Pour the wine into the skillet & bring to a steady simmer for about 15 minutes. Most of the wine will be evaporated as well as soaked into the ingredients.
  5. Add the milk, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, & herbs. Stir to thoroughly combine. Bring back to a simmer again & reduce heat to low/medium.
  6. Keep the bolognese at a simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half & slightly thickened. About 25-30 minutes.
  7. While the bolognese sauce simmers, heat a large pot of water & boil the pasta until tender.
  8. Put a serving of pasta in the bottom of a bowl & spoon generous amount of bolognese sauce over pasta. Top with parmesan & bon appetit!

One thought on “Turkey Bolognese

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: