CELEBRATE NATIONAL PASTA DAY WITH MY TURKEY BOLOGNESE RECIPE
In the past year and a half, due to the pandemic, I had to learn how to cook! Will wonders never cease? And, according to the very picky Mr. X, I’ve become pretty good at it, (an assessment I unabashedly agree with.)
So, to get you all ready for National Pasta Day this Sunday, I’m sharing another one of my recipes with you. (You can find the rest of my creations in the Recipe section of this e-zine, and if you’re looking for a vegetarian way to celebrate the day, here’s the link to my one for the most delicious Checca ever: itsnotaboutme.tv/news/recipe-karens-checca-pasta-recipe-with-a-lot-of-choices.)
My also-delicious Turkey Bolognese is a mash-up of a few other recipes I’ve seen for the dish over the years, refined by some of my own innovations, making it the perfect pasta dish. I’m sure it would also be excellent with ground beef in place of turkey, but after I had my mini-stroke six years ago, (the anniversary of which is also this Sunday, by the way,) I was told to not eat red meat anymore, so it’s been chicken and turkey and pork for me since then. (Sorry to my vegetarian readers, but there’s no way to make Bolognese without meat, unless you use the fake stuff, and in that case, I cannot guarantee how tasty that will be.)
Okay, here goes:
1 pound of any kind of pasta, but penne, rigatoni, or rotini work best. (Do not use angel hair, though—the sauce will overwhelm it.)
1 pound ground turkey, the leaner the better. (I use 97% lean.)
1 regular-size white or yellow onion
1 normal-sized carrot or 7-9 baby ones
1-2 stalks of celery, depending on how much you have to cut off the ends
4 cloves of garlic
2 15-ounce cans of plain tomato (or spaghetti) sauce. (If you make your own sauce, even better, I’m sure.)
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
Salt and black pepper
First, chop all your vegetables. I always feel more is more in this recipe because it gives it more crunch, and…it makes the dish more healthful. So more veggies is always a win-win! Chop the onion normally, finely chop the celery and carrot(s), (if you’re using a big carrot, peel it first, which is why I use baby carrots!,) chop the basil leaves a bit, (unless you just tear them up as you pick them off the plant,) and mince the garlic. (If you hate mincing as much as I do, no worries–it does not have to be perfect.)
When that’s done, get cooking!
Heat the oil for a few seconds over medium heat in a frying pan that’s large enough to accommodate everything except the pasta. (If you have one large enough for that, too, go ahead and use it if you like.)
Then add the onion and garlic and sauté for five minutes.
Next add the chopped carrots and celery, and sauté another five minutes.
This is the only tricky part: Make sure the ground turkey is fully defrosted if it had been frozen. [Note: If it ever smells funny once defrosted, just throw it away. If you’ve already started the sauce, just go with it as vegan.] It’s best to break the turkey up a little before adding it to the pan; that will make it easier to break-up more once you add it. So add it to the cooking veggies and break it all up into small “pieces.” Cook it until it’s all brown, with no pink meat left.
When it’s all browned sufficiently, drain the grease off. Yes, some of that liquid will be olive oil, but it’s best to have as little fat as possible left, so some of the oil will have to be sacrificed. It’s for the greater good! [Notes: I use a splatter screen and drain it into the flat container the turkey came in, but some of you old cooking pros may have a better method. And remember to shut the burner while you do this, please, to avoid disasters such as fires and burns. And, just as importantly, remember to turn it back on a minute later, when you’re heating the sauce!!!]
Then add the two cans of tomato sauce, and decrease the heat to medium-low. Simmer for at least fifteen minutes, stirring often. (I leave the splatter screen over the top loosely.)
While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. [Note: You don’t want the pasta to be done before the sauce, while, conversely, the sauce can simmer longer than fifteen minutes.]
When both components are ready, stir the chopped basil leaves into the sauce, add a bit of salt and pepper, as you like it. But remember to not over salt—the pasta should have some, as well, and you can always add more when you eat it, but, of course, you cannot subtract any!
When both sauce and pasta are ready, drain the pasta, (do not rinse!!!,) and put it back in the pot. Pour the sauce over it and mix well. (Alternatively, if your pan is big enough, you can add the pasta right into the sauce.)
And that’s it! I eat mine as is while Mr. X always sprinkles parmigiana cheese over the top. Either way is perfection, (if I do say so myself.) (That’s Mr. X’s bowl on the right, in the pic at the top of this page.)
You can enjoy this recipe any time, of course, but I hope this helps you to have a Happy National Pasta Day on Sunday. Mangia!