Turkey Bolognese with Rigatoni

Aaaaaas in turkey. Ground turkey. Health!

Turkey Bolognese with Rigatoni / Bev Cooks

I made this a few weeks ago on a whim. And I am telling you, that sauce rented a space in my mouth and never returned the key.

Hold on that didn’t make much sense. I don’t in fact still have the sauce in my mouth, all this time later. That’s weird. I just mean it’s never left my mind. It rented a space in my mind and never returned the key. Maybe the key got lodged in my ear drum? Or esophagus. This isn’t going so well.

I just mean I’ve not been able to get it out of my head, so I just have to share it with you! Because of the whole ear drum thing.

You’re like, just stop.

Turkey Bolognese with Rigatoni / Bev Cooks  Turkey Bolognese with Rigatoni / Bev Cooks

Thing is, I could eat a red meaty pasta sauce every day of my life and it wouldn’t be enough. But the sauce has to be GOOD. Like, good good. It’s got to have a nice tang. A subtle hint of smoke. A kiss of spice. A deep, complex tomato flavor, but also bright with acidity.

But. Okay. There’s a catch. And I hope you don’t break up with me over this.

I used jarred marinara for this recipe. UGH. I know. BUT. Hold on. It’s not those big brands thick with sodium and cardboard flavor. Naw, man. It’s a local restaurant that jars their own sauce and good gracious my face. It’s DELISH. So this is what you do. Hunt down a really, really, really ridiculously good looking (name that movie) jar of marinara. And then add all the stuff from my recipe and be happy and gleeful in life and still love me to pieces. Coo?


Turkey Bolognese with Rigatoni / Bev Cooks

Let the sauce simmer for as looong as you can. You’re adding a full cup of chicken stock, so it has lots of room to bubble and reduce in a relaxed time frame.

Seriously, this is bananas fab. It’s great for snow days (hello all of the world), perfect for weekends, or even weekdays if you’re home already. The turkey packs a punch with all the seasonings, and the rigatoni is awesome because pasta.

Turkey Bolognese with Rigatoni / Bev Cooks

You can’t not.

Turkey Bolognese with Rigatoni:

What it took for four:

* 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
* 2 carrots, chopped
* 2 stalks celery, chopped
* 1/2 large onion, diced
* 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 1/2 pound ground turkey (mine was a dark/light mix)
* 1 Tbs. Italian seasoning
* 1 Tbs. smoked paprika
* 1 tsp cinnamon
* 1 (26 oz) jar of your favorite marinara
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 pound rigatoni
* coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the carrots, celery and onion. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté for about six minutes, letting the veggies soften. Add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds.

Add the turkey and brown all over, incorporating with the veggies. Once there’s no pink left, season with the Italian seasoning, smoked paprika and cinnamon. Get that all tossed and covered and lovely.

Now add the marinara, chicken stock and bay leaf. Simmer on low for about an hour. Longer if you can! Taste it and add a little more salt if needed.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook until al dente, whatever the package says. It will probably feel like a hundred years.

You can do this two ways: fish out the bay leaf and add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Which I really love to do. OR, divide the pasta among your bowls and ladle the sauce right on top. Either way, you’re still a good person.

Garnish with obscene amounts of parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Dive in, already.

Turkey Bolognese with Rigatoni / Bev Cooks


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30 Responses to Turkey Bolognese with Rigatoni

  1. nicole @ i am a honey bee February 23, 2015 at 8:44 pm #
    OMG this looks so good. And I def fully support using jarred sauce, when it's a really good jarred sauce. Hearty meat sauces are so good.
  2. Sammie February 24, 2015 at 1:35 am #
    Super wow, I love bolognaise, pasta and this looks scrummy. I can't believe I posted a Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne recipe yesterday (with the option to use Turkey). I love the addition of spices, so this is a must try. Thank you for posting such a scrumptious recipe! Sammie http://www.feastingisfun.com
  3. Liz @ The Lemon Bowl February 24, 2015 at 6:43 am #
    Smoked paprika!! You're such a smarty pants.
  4. Aysegul February 24, 2015 at 7:19 am #
    This dish is the definition of comfort food for me. Easy to put together, filling, and delicious. Also, I am a big fan of foods that I can get from nearby local restaurants. Not only I get to support local businesses, but also they usually are super delicious.
  5. Lara February 24, 2015 at 9:39 am #
    Zoolander reference! Love! Also I could absolutely eat red sauce all.the.time. My aunt makes a ton with tomatoes from my mom's garden and then freezes it for us to have throughout the winter. It is the bomb-diggity. I usually put it on chicken parm, but I think this might have to be my new go to. And I'm so glad you made this with ground turkey. I have a weird aversion to ground beef so I'm always switching it out for turkey.
  6. Sharana @ Living The Sweet Life Blog February 24, 2015 at 11:07 am #
    soooooo... this is what's for dinner!! I go ga-ga for a good sauce!
  7. ginger m. February 24, 2015 at 11:26 am #
    Okay, you people . If you must use jarred sauce, Rao's is the way to go. It is fantastic, bright, tomato-y, not gloppy like most. The roasted garlic is especially good. Down side is it is expensive, wait for it to go on sale and you can thank me later :)
  8. Stefanie @ Sarcastic Cooking February 24, 2015 at 2:34 pm #
    Bowl-ah-nay-zay!!! One of my favorite words ever!!! This definitely takes a jar of sauce to the next level!!!
  9. Amanda February 24, 2015 at 4:11 pm #
    I am SURE my 14 year old twins will love this. But just so ya know, we're in California and NO SNOW. No rain or cold weather this winter either. We havent stopped wearing shorts yet...
  10. Jennifer @ The Foodie Patootie February 24, 2015 at 7:49 pm #
    There is no shame in using jarred marinara, especially if it's from a local business. The phrase 'eat local' can also apply to marinara sauce, right? Because why not.
  11. Kristen@accidentallydomesticated February 24, 2015 at 8:06 pm #
    That looks killer! I crave pasta all day every day, this will be on my plate very soon!
  12. Jenny Flake February 25, 2015 at 9:45 am #
    What a delicious dish! I just love pasta dinners :D
  13. Laurie {Simply Scratch} February 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm #
    Bolognese is the bestest! This pasta looks like pure perfection Bev!
  14. Katherine February 26, 2015 at 7:38 am #
    I immediately went to the store post-work to pick up ingredients for this deliciousness. Loved it! The paprika and cinnamon make it different and awesome - I also can never help myself with spicy and added some crushed red pepper to this! Thanks, Bev!
  15. Sonali- The Foodie Physician March 1, 2015 at 10:37 pm #
    Turkey Bolognese is the bomb and yours looks A-MAZ-ING! Gorgeous photos as always!
  16. Erin March 3, 2015 at 3:18 pm #
    Looks SO good I can't even contain my excitement!!! Quick question - no draining of the turkey grease? Just wanted to dbl check.
    • Bev Weidner March 3, 2015 at 3:27 pm #
      No draining! There shouldn't be much at all. Mine was even a mix of dark and white meat and there was next to nothing. Let me know how you like it!
  17. Sarah March 26, 2015 at 7:17 pm #
    Hi, I'm from the KC area. Where did you get the sauce?? I'm dying to try it.
    • Bev Weidner March 30, 2015 at 7:22 am #
      Hey! I got the Jasper's marinara at Hyvee! Just right there with all the jarred pasta sauces. Good luck!
  18. Nani June 19, 2016 at 4:53 pm #
    I omitted the celery because I only need two sticks, yet I don't want to buy a bunch just to get them. Other than that, followed pretty much everything to the letter, except I used this recipe for green lentils because my husband likes them over pasta. He loves this sauce with his lentils. One day I'll have to try it with pasta. :)
  19. Jessy December 1, 2018 at 2:24 pm #
    This was absolutely delicious omg. It makes A LOT so I immediately froze half. With the other half my boyfriend and I had enough for dinner and lunch the next day. It freezes beautifully, btw! Another 4 (generous) servings! I omitted the cinnamon, I have never been a fan of it in pasta sauces.
  20. Linda Ward July 30, 2021 at 4:28 pm #
    Hi, making the sauce for the first time today. If it tastes half as good as it smells, it will be off the charts, delicious! Looking forward to serving over Angel Hair pasta. Thank you for sharing this recipe.
  21. Janice DeMarco August 29, 2022 at 9:41 am #
    I really wish there was a PRINT RECIPE option.
  22. Stephanie April 12, 2023 at 8:00 am #
    Just here to say that I made this recipe in 2015, and today in 2023 I’m still making it. It’s become my go-to meal to bring to friends and family, AND my family loves it so much we eat it once or twice a month.


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