Healthy Turkey Bolognese Pasta gets a rich depth of flavor from porcini mushrooms. A delicious, lightened version of an Italian classic.
I love a good Italian meat sauce. There’s nothing like the smell of long simmering meat, onions, tomatoes and garlic. Toss with some past and top with cheese and you have a great meal.
Our Turkey Bolognese sauce features porcini mushrooms to add a depth of flavor to the ground turkey that makes this sauce taste like it could have been made with beef. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy beef from time to time, but it’s nice to have this healthy turkey bolognese pasta as an option too.
What is Turkey Bolognese?
Bolognese sauce is a classic Italian meat sauce. Typically made with a combination of beef and other meats such as pork or veal, turkey bolognese sauce is a lightened version of the classic. We use porcini mushrooms along with the ground turkey to give the sauce a depth of flavor with less calories and saturated fat.
How to make Turkey Bolognese with Porcini Mushrooms
As I mentioned, the porcini mushrooms are key to making this healthy yet rich turkey bolognese sauce. I buy dried porcini mushrooms (Amazon link provided) and reconstitute them by soaking the dried mushrooms in warm water. Save that soaking liquid! We add that into the sauce to further enhance the flavor of this turkey bolognese pasta.
The dried porcini mushrooms soak for 30 minutes, so you get that going first. Other than that step, this recipe is much like other Bolognese sauces. You start by sautéing onions and garlic, then add the turkey. After the turkey browns a bit, you add the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer for a good hour or so.
Wine Pairing for Turkey Bolognese Pasta
I went off the beaten path for our turkey bolognese wine pairing. I opened a 2013 Iole Grillo Refosco ($20, 14% ABV), a bold red wine from the Friuli region of Northeastern Italy. Refosco is the grape varietal in the wine.
I get sage brush on the nose, plush blackberry fruit and a touch of cinnamon. Notable tannins. This Refosco worked pretty well with our turkey bolognese sauce; it might go even better with a Tuscan Beef Stew.
A Chianti or Barbera would also be good pairing choices for our Turkey Bolognese Pasta.
Turkey Bolognese Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms
Ground turkey simmers with porcini mushrooms for a rich, healthy Bolognese sauce that is delicious tossed with pasta.
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hr 15 mins
- Total Time: 1 hr 45 mins
- Yield: 8 servings
- Category: main
- Method: sauce
- Cuisine: Italian
- 2 ozs dried porcini mushrooms
- 3 cups water
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 lbs ground turkey
- ½ cup red wine
- 28 ozs diced tomatoes
- 2 cups porcini soaking liquid
- 1 lb rigatoni or other short pasta shape
- grated parmesan cheese for topping
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp marjoram
- ½ tsp oregano
- Pinch fennel seed
- Heat the water in a pan. When it starts to boil, remove from stove and pour over the dried porcini in a bowl that can withstand the hot water. Let the porcini soak in the water for at least 30 minutes.
- Place a sieve over a bowl and line it with a wet paper towel. Pour the mushrooms into the sieve. Reserve the porcini soaking water. Rinse the mushrooms, then coarsely chop and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Add the carrot, and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, cook for another minute. Add another tablespoon olive oil, and gradually add the turkey, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 5 minutes to brown the turkey. Add the porcini mushrooms, and stir to combine.
- Stir in the cooking wine, and cook for about 5 minutes until the wine has been mostly absorbed into the meat. Stir in the tomatoes and 2 cups reserved porcini liquid. Add the basil, marjoram, fennel seed and oregano.
- Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for at least 1 hour. If you have time to let is simmer a bit longer, that further enhances the flavors.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions toward the end of the simmering time for the sauce. Drain the pasta, and toss with enough sauce to thoroughly coat the pasta. Keep the extra sauce warm on low heat.
- Plate the pasta and top with a bit of additional sauce, if desired. Pass the cheese at the table, and enjoy with a good Italian red wine.
- This makes 8 servings, so if you aren’t feeding a large family or entertaining you will probably have leftovers! You could reserve some of the sauce to reheat and toss with a fresh batch of pasta if you like.