Meet Turkey Bolognese. This recipe has been in the rotation in our house for almost two decades. It was the sauce we cooked together in Andy’s first apartment (in 1994, in Brooklyn, when the only restaurant on Smith Street was The Red Rose) and the same one he made when we first came home from the hospital with a new baby — which we then stored in freezer bags alongside bags of expressed breastmilk. It is not only forgiving with measurements, but with schedules, too. It’s workable on a weeknight if you have a 40-45 minute window (about half that is hands-on time) or, if you wake up on a Sunday feeling particularly SuperMommish, you can cook up a batch to freeze and cash in on later in the week.
Basic Turkey Bolognese
In a medium saucepan, over medium-low heat, heat a few glugs of olive oil. Add 1 small onion (chopped), 1 clove garlic (minced), a few shakes of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper (to taste). Cook about 2 minutes. Push everything to one side of the pot, turn up heat slightly, and add 3/4 pound ground turkey (or ground beef), breaking it up with a fork as it browns. Once most of the pink is gone, stir together with onion mixture. Add 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste, 1/4 cup water, a few shakes of fennel seed and stir everything together. (A wooden spoon is effective here.) If you have wine (optional), stir in about 1/4 cup, and raise heat until it has reduced. Add 1 28-ounce can tomato puree, 8-ish shakes of dried oregano, and stir. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes up to an hour. (If you are freezing for later, let it cool at this point, then add to a freezer bag flattening like a book so it’s easy to thaw under running water later.) While the sauce is simmering (or reheating) prepare 1 pound penne (or any pasta) according to package directions. Toss in with sauce and serve in bowls with freshly grated Parmesan.