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Weeknight Turkey Bolognese

Cook Time:
20 mins
Prep Time:
10 mins

Chef notes

It was a cold Tuesday night so naturally, I wanted Bolognese. To be honest, I crave Bolognese during the sweltering heat of summer, so the temperature had nothing to do with my craving and everything to do with my undying love for meat sauce. But I didn't want to wait hours for a traditional Bolognese to simmer because I am extremely impatient, especially when it comes to food. So, this is my riff on the classic Bolognese, made a bit more nutritious with the addition of grated zucchini. Leave out the zucchini if you want, but it dissolves into the meat, so you literally don't even know it's there.

Technique tip: Grate zucchini on a box grater and sauté into the sauce for added veggies.

Swap options: Try with ground chicken instead of turkey. Use 2 teaspoons of the Calabrian chili paste if you prefer less heat; you can also swap in 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.


  • olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground white meat turkey
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated and squeezed dry to remove excess moisture (should be about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Calabrian chili paste
  • 1 (32-ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 3-4 leaves basil (optional)
  • pasta of choice, cooked according to instructions
  • grated Parmesan and ricotta, for topping (optional)



Preheat a large straight sided sauté pan set over medium high heat and add about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add in ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until turkey has browned and cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes.


Add red onion, garlic and Italian seasoning. Sauté until slightly softened and aromatic, 3 to 5 minutes. If skillet appears dry, add another tablespoon of olive oil.


Add zucchini. Sauté with aromatics for about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt.


Deglaze skillet with wine. Scrape the bottom of the skillet to release any browned bits.


Add Calabrian chili paste, marinara sauce and basil. Allow sauce to simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite pasta and top with grated Parm and ricotta.