Got Time? Italian Turkey Meat Sauce (Bolognese Inspired)

Sometimes, a cook wants a day off. I recently had a morning of nothingness. It was a day meant for relaxing, watching a movie or a cooking show. Later in the day, I would meet the boyfriend at a coffee shop to go shopping. As much as I love to cook, I didn’t want to spend this rare morning prepping food. Reading one of the cookbooks, I decided to make a Bolognese Meat Sauce. Except this version will use turkey. Starting the sauce is easy, and it requires a few hours of cooking time with the occasional stirring. The sauce is traditionally made with tough cuts of beef and pork and slowly simmered to tenderness.

The prep work is easy (hint: Trader Joe’s sells a start kit of chopped onions, celery and carrots in the produce section). As the sauce slowly simmers on the stove for a couple hours, continue to have a relaxing morning. Watch television. Nap. Read a book. One hour before leaving the house to run errands; turn the stove off and let the sauce cool. Place it in the fridge before leaving the house. Run errands around the city. Come home a few hours later. Reheat the sauce. Proceed with the final steps of the recipe. Cook pasta. In 30 to 45 minutes, enjoy your fast meal.

Bolognese Turkey Meat Sauce

This is the sauce I use for lasagna.


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 carrots, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 celery, chopped into small pieces
  • ¼ cup chopped turkey or thick-cut, pork bacon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/4 lb. ground turkey
  • ¾ to 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 28 or 35 oz. can of whole plum tomatoes, chopped (I cheat with canned chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme, wrapped in twine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of fresh chopped basil, divided in half
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese


  1. Pre-heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery and bacon. Cook for ten minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
  2. Add garlic and stir for 30 sec. Add turkey meat. Break up any clumps. Fully cook meat until done; it’ll take five to ten minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and their juice, thyme, bay leaves, stock, tomato paste, sugar, wine, and red pepper. Reduce heat to low and slowly simmer for one hour. Stir occasionally. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Continue to stir occasionally. Sauce will thicken. If you’re lucky to have extra time, add more wine or stock if sauce starts to look dry.
  4. Optional step: Let the sauce cool over the stove for an hour. Place in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours. Alternatively, put the sauce (completely cooled down) in a sealed freezer-proof container and freeze for a few weeks. Defrost sauce in the refrigerator before reheating. Reheat sauce in a large pot over medium heat before continuing to the next step.
  5. After the sauce thickens, add cream and cook for an additional 15 to 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally. If needed, add salt and pepper. Stir in the basil.
  6. Serve the sauce over pasta with freshly grated parmesan and/or mozzarella cheese.
  7. Garnish with more basil leaves. Enjoy your meal.