Simple Turkey Bolognese

With the whole family about to descend for Thanksgiving, you might be in the market for simple, hearty fare to fill everyone up — not for the Big Meal itself, which is something else all together, but for all those in betweeners — easy breakfasts, lunches and dinners to have on hand to feed the masses.

Breakfast in our house is usually either just bowls of cereal or Wawa doughnuts (Philadelphia, represent), and people are usually out and about for lunch, but having this easy Turkey Bolognese on hand (in the fridge or freezer) means that a warm and filling dinner is within arms reach, any night of the week.  Which is good, because I’ve got other things (i.e. stuffing, sweet potatoes, pie, etc. etc. etc.) to focus on.

(Also yes, I realize serving turkey bolognese the same week as a massive turkey dinner might sound like a lot of turkey.  But the sauce is just good, okay?  And worlds different than traditional Thanksgiving fare.  But if it really offends you, swap out ground beef or lamb instead. And then get off my back about it, okay? Love you.)

Simple Turkey Bolognese

This sauce can be made a few days ahead of time and stored in the fridge, otherwise it will keep beautifully for months in the freezer.  It’s nice served with spaghetti or other pasta, but also does very well on its own, topped with mounds of Parmesan and maybe some garlic bread.


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • big pinch kosher salt
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 lbs ground turkey (I like dark meat)
  • 1 cup red wine (I used a cabernet)
  • 4 cups marinara sauce (you can use a simple can of tomato sauce but I love a richer marinara sauce like Rao’s or Michael’s of Brooklyn)


In a pot or Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and sweat until translucent.

Add the celery, carrot, salt, pepper and dried herbs, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until vegetables are soft.  Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute, until warm and fragrant.

Add the ground turkey and break it up with a spoon or spatula, gently working it into the vegetables.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the turkey is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Add the wine to the pot and stir to combine.  Let the sauce simmer aggressively until some of the liquid has cooked out of the pot, about 10 minutes.  Add the marinara sauce, stir to combine, and reduce the heat.  Bring the bolognese to a simmer, and either serve immediately or let gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for an hour or two before serving.

Makes about 8 cups sauce.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.