Turkey Bolognese (and, Hello!)

I’m a baker. Type A. Precise. A cup of flour leveled neatly with a knife. A recipe, open in front of me, followed to the letter. A long internal debate over whether it’s OK to top off that cream that’s juuuuuust shy of two cups with a splash of milk.

I’m not a cook. I can cook, and I do cook, but I’m not a cook. The difference to me between the noun and the verb is that cooks have a feel for things. They know when a recipe needs a little of this, a little of that, more salt, a spice I never would have thought of.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t try, and recently, I’ve been trying more — helped along by my CSA delivery getting awesome for the summer, a general desire to stop eating out at restaurants all the time, and a penchant for taking on projects that are maybe just slightly above my actual kitchen abilities (like trying to pickle everything). I also got a new camera that finally takes decent pictures of food. Add it all up, and … we have a blog.

The other night, before I realized that I wanted to write about all of this, I actually made one of my first successful “a little of this, a little of that” recipes: a turkey bolognese sauce assembled from an assortment of things left in my fridge. I didn’t keep track of amounts, really, and I can’t promise I remember everything that went in, but that’s kind of the point of it, isn’t it? To add and add and mix and add until it tastes right?

More to come. For now, make some pasta and top it with this.

Totally Made-Up Turkey Bolognese Sauce
1/2 lb. ground turkey
a bunch of tomatoes, chopped (I used six small-ish tomatoes)
as much onion as you like, chopped (I used half of a really big one)
stock/broth/water (a cup should be plenty)
tomato paste (a tablespoon or so)
a bell pepper, carrots, celery – whatever other veggies you have around
splash of white wine
olive oil
your favorite Italian seasonings


1. In a large skillet, saute the chopped onion in some olive oil until it starts to soften. Toss in any other hard veggies you might have (carrots, celery, etc.)

2. Add the turkey, breaking up any chunks, and cook until it starts to brown

3. Toss in the tomatoes and stir; they’ll start releasing juices pretty fast. I also added my bell pepper along with the tomatoes.

4. This is where it gets very “just do what looks right”-ish. I added a bit of stock and a splash of wine and stirred till it all combined

5. Season as you’d like. I started with the tomato paste, stirred it in, and then grabbed whatever Penzeys bottles were nearby. I even tossed in a splash of sherry vinegar for some reason.

6. Turn the heat down and simmer for a while. I let it go for 30 minutes before checking on it, and most of the liquid had already evaporated, so you might want to go even lower with the heat or simmer for a shorter amount of time.

7. Eat! I boiled some pasta, added this sauce and some shredded gouda, topped it with bread crumbs, and popped it in the oven for a little while for more of a baked pasta feel, but I think it would be delicious on anything.

This made enough sauce for four generous servings of pasta.

3 responses

    • Ha, you are right — I didn’t realize that, but yes! And I’d say if you added a wee bit more turkey, a bit more broth, and some spicier spices, it’s pretty darn close to chili.

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