Bolognese is one of those words that I never had any idea what it meant until I started watching the Food Network. One of my very favorite shows to watch on it is Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. I love watching Guy travel around to restaurants all around the U.S. that you would have never heard of otherwise, and learn about how others interpret popular recipes or make entirely unique creations. I’ve actually learned a lot about cooking and food in general from that show, and it gives me endless inspiration for the meals that I create.
One recipe that I’ve seen a number of times is Bolognese sauce. Bolognese is a meat-based tomato sauce typically consisting of ground meat, onion, carrot, and celery, finished off with white wine, sometimes cream, and served over papparadelle pasta. Pasta with meat sauce has always been somewhat of a comfort food to me, so this recipe instantly appealed to me. Growing up, my mom would often make what she called “American Chop Suey”, which was just meat sauce served over fun pasta like rotini or wagon wheels (our favorite!). As much as I love mom’s chop suey, I felt like I was ready to kick things up a notch and fix up an old favorite.
My Bolognese sauce is not exactly traditional. First of all, I decided to use ground turkey rather than beef or pork simply because I prefer the flavor and like that it’s lower fat. My recipe also doesn’t include white wine. I simply haven’t acquired the taste for wine in cooking yet… hopefully it will come some day. I chose not to add cream to my sauce, but if you choose to use it, make sure you add it at the end when the sauce is just about done cooking.
This Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese is a rich, chunky sauce with complex flavors from the combination of the meat, veggies, and spices. I chose to cook it in a slow cooker because I think most of us can agree that sauces that are cooked over a low temperature for several hours just taste better. If you don’t have a crock-pot, you can cook this sauce over the stove top and let it simmer for 3-4 hours. This sauce is surprisingly low-fat and is a perfect meal to serve to your family or friends. Serve it with whole grain pasta to make it even healthier!
Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. ground turkey (I used 93% lean)
- 1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
- 1 15. oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 bay leaf
- cooked pasta of your choice, to serve
- In a large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter over low heat. Add onions and carrots and saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add celery and garlic and continue cooking.
- In a separate frying pan, cook ground turkey over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to break the meat up into small chunks. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until meat is lightly browned (but don’t overcook).
- Lightly spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray. Add meat and veggies, along with the 2 cans of tomatoes and the spices. Stir to combine. Don’t forget the bay leaf, too!
- Set for low and cook for 4-5 hours. Once your sauce is finished, served over cooked pasta with a healthy sprinkle of parmesan cheese and enjoy.