Turkey Bolognese

Bolognese is a classic, hearty, and rich sauce that is simple and so comforting. Since it has such a rich flavor, it is the perfect topping for a bed of zucchini noodles, “zoodles”, – you won’t even miss the pasta!

With such a flavorful sauce, I substituted the ground beef for a lean ground turkey. By adding lots of spices and some mushrooms, the umami flavor is still achieved despite using a lighter protein.

This is my “quick” bolognese recipe as it simmers for only an hour vs. the traditional bolognese which would cook for 2-3 hours.

Prep Time: 20 min / Cook Time: 1.5 hours / Servings: 6 – 8


  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 3 slices bacon, sliced into small cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 29 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth (low sodium)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (about 5 cloves)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fennel
  • 4 Zucchinis – spiralized into “zoodles”.
  • Optional for toppings:
    • Chopped parsley
    • Freshly grated parmesan


  • Heat a large pot over medium/high heat. Add the sliced bacon and cook until browned and crispy.
  • Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside.
  • Add ground turkey to the hot bacon fat and cook. Break the ground turkey into small bits as it cooks. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Once cooked, remove the ground turkey from the pot and set aside with the bacon.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the hot pot. Once hot, add the onion, celery and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes then add the chopped garlic. Cook for another 5-10 minutes (until vegetables are soft and translucent).
  • Add the chicken and bacon back to the pot.
  • Add the tomato paste and sauce.
  • Season with the remaining salt, more pepper, chili flakes, parsley, oregano and fennel. Stir.
  • Add the red wine to the pot and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits.
  • Add the broth and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to bring the sauce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • After 45 min, add the mushrooms and cook for a remaining 15 minutes.
  • While the sauce cooks, spiralize the zucchini.
  • Heat a large, deep saute pan (the sauce will be added to this pan so it should be fairly large). Add the remaining 1 tsp olive oil.
  • Add the zucchini noodles, “zoodles”, to the hot pan and cook down slightly until they are tender and release some of their water.
  • When the sauce is done, add it directly to the large pan of zoodles.
  • Heat and stir until the sauce and zoodles are well mixed.
  • Serve and top with fresh parsley and grated fresh parmesan!

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