I think that everyone should know how to make some version of homemade spaghetti sauce, so I decided to throw together a quick and healthy version of Spaghetti Bolognese. I replaced the spaghetti with quinoa to cut down on the carbs and increase the protein content of this comfort food. Starting with Giada's Turkey Bolognese, I added some additional vegetables, used tomatoes and tomato paste rather than premade marinara sauce, and substituted ground turkey for the shredded turkey.
The result is a flavorful and filling dinner that is quick enough for a weeknight but could also be slowly simmered on a Sunday afternoon and kept for reheating later in the week. I often freeze 2-serving portions in plastic freezer bags and then defrost the sauce when I need a quick dinner in the middle of the week.
Quinoa is a great substitute for pasta. By boiling it like pasta rather than slowly simmering it, I find that you eliminate the need for rinsing and lose any bitter flavor that quinoa can sometimes have.
Turkey Bolognese with Quinoa (Sauce makes 6 servings)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 small bunch of fresh basil)
1 pound ground free range turkey breast
3/4 cup (6 oz.) red wine or water
1 28-oz. can whole peeled organic tomatoes
1 6 oz. can organic tomato paste
Salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
1 cup uncooked quinoa (makes about 3 servings - Use 2 cups for 6 servings)
1. Heat a large pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and then add the chopped onions, carrots, and celery to the pan and sauté until the onions are translucent and the other vegetables are soft, about 5-10 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, oregano, basil, along with a small pinch of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, to the pan and stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the garlic and spices become fragrant.
3. Break the ground turkey into smaller pieces and add the meat to the pan. Use a large spoon to break up larger pieces of turkey. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and is opaque, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the red wine or water. Use a small paring knife to roughly slice up the whole tomatoes in the can, and then add the canned tomatoes and the tomato paste to the pan. Thoroughly mix in all the ingredients and bring the sauce to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat to a simmer (medium-low to low depending on your stovetop) and allow the sauce to simmer partially covered for at least 20 minutes. You can also let this simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours on low if you like - the flavor will only get better. Taste the sauce before serving and add salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes as needed.
6. While your sauce is simmering, prepare the quinoa (or boil pasta if you prefer). *I cook quinoa using the same boiling method used for pasta because it eliminates the need for rinsing and cooks the quinoa perfectly. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
7. Salt the water and add quinoa to the boiling water. Cook for 10 minutes and then drain in a mesh strainer.
8. Serve about 1 cup of cooked quinoa with about 1.5 cups of the Turkey Bolognese sauce.
9. Top with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese. Store any leftover quinoa and sauce in the refrigerator. Sauce can be made ahead and frozen in freezer bags or freezer-safe plastic or glass containers.
Nutrition facts for one serving of sauce (without quinoa) cooked with water and 1/4 teaspoon of added salt:
Serving Size 302 g
Nutrition facts for one serving of sauce and one serving of cooked quinoa, sauce cooked with water and 1/4 teaspoon of added salt:
Serving Size 356 g