Tag Archives: turkey ragu

Really Great Turkey & Bacon Ragu (serves 6)

 This was a great mid-week dinner. Wednesday is the day my kids are a little tired of the school week but in the evening are beginning to look forward to the weekend (I know that’s wishing their young lives away, but this is a hard lesson to teach little people who think they will live forever!).

This was a great mid-week treat

This was a great mid-week treat

I put this sauce together the moment I got in the door and that left me free to do all of those other things that needed to be taken care of (science project panic!). I wanted to use a lighter meat for the ragu and I had some turkey that I though would work. It was not ground, but that didn’t bother me (Ragu is made with ground meat but f you don’t have it, don’t worry about it).

I was a little concerned with the meat not having as much flavor as say lamb or pork, so I added some bacon. I think bacon is the secret ingredient that waylays lots of disasters!

It was really lovely and made the hum-drum feeling that Wednesdays can bring fade away.


* This ragu sauce can be made the day before (or in the morning) and reheated slowly on the stove-top while the pasta is cooking*

You will need:

1 tbs olive oil

8 strips bacon (streaky), sliced into 1 inch pieces (approx.)

1 lb turkey cutlets, cut into bite-sized pieces (thin sliced turkey breast – if you can only find whole fillets, slice it yourself)

1 medium onion, cut into large chunks

3 cloves garlic,

1 carrot

2 or 3 tender inner celery ribs, including leaves

1 28 oz can tomato puree (894 grams)

2 tbs tomato paste ( sun-dried or smoky varieties are fine to use)

2 cups water

1 tsp sea-salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tbs cold unsalted butter (optional)

6 cups freshly chopped spinach

1 1/4  lbs rigatoni pasta, or another hearty pasta like bucatini, ribbed penne or shells (I use Barilla brand)

1 1/2 cups Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated (optional)


1 – Put large saute pan on medium heat and add the oil and chopped bacon. Cook until bacon starts to get crispy (anywhere from 8 to 10 minutes).

fry bacon

Fry bacon

2 – Season the turkey with the salt and several grinds of black pepper and add to the pan. You will have to turn up the heat slightly. Cook turkey until it takes on a white color (about 5 to 8 minutes). Stir occasionally.

add turkey

Add turkey

3 – While meat is cooking, prep the veggies: slice carrot, onion and celery into chunks and add to a food processor with the garlic cloves. Pulse until it resembles large rubbly bits.

chop veggies in food processor

Chop veggies in food processor

4 – Add the veggies to the pan and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes (adjusting the heat down slightly).

add veggies

Add veggies

6 – Add the tomato paste, tomato puree, water, and chili flakes. Bring to a boil. When it boils, turn it down, cover and simmer at a bare bubble for about 2 hours. Check every 1/2 hour (or less) and give it a stir. If it gets very thick, add a 1/2 cup of water at a time to adjust consistency. However, it should be very thick.

add liquids adn spices

Add liquids and spices

7 – Add the chopped spinach and stir. (*at this point put the pasta on and cook according to instructions – do not rinse pasta and reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water before draining to add to sauce if necessary*)

add chopped spinach

Add chopped spinach

8 – Cover and cook for a further 12 or so minutes, stirring once during this time. Turn off heat. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning if necessary (salt, and/or pepper). If it is thicker than you would like, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water. Stir butter (if using) into sauce.

cook a little more adn adjust seasonings

Cook a little more and adjust seasonings

Divide pasta between warmed shallow bowls or plates and top each with a helping of Ragu. Pass some grated Parmigiano Reggiano and pepper flakes at the table.

Turkey & Bacon Ragu

Turkey & Bacon Ragu with lots of grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Spaghetti With Turkey Ragu (serves 4)

Spaghetti with Turkey Ragu

Today was a lazy Sunday. I dubbed it a lazy day when I watched my daughter cutting long strips of pale lilac paper, stopping short at the end, and then cutting another strip until the whole sheet looked like the fringe of a fancy dress. She then cut them across and the pieces fell to the table in a cascade of tiny squares. I inquired if she was making confetti, and if so, “why”? She said “yes”, and “because it was something to do”.  That made it official. If someone resorts to idly making confetti, you can be sure they have nothing to do.

Hand-cut lilac confetti

I didn’t see this as a bad thing. We have been busy for far too long, and this action indicated to me we had begun to exhale, to relax, to breath. The piles of paper dropping from her scissors reminded me of the campo in Siena, where only a few months earlier I watched my daughter collect the tiny colorful confetti that lay in every space between the bricks and then fling it all into the air for the pure fun of it (type “Lunch in Siena; Spectacular” in search box to read more). Now everyone is in bed as I write, all the while itching to fling into the air her painstakingly made confetti that sits on the table beside me. I just can’t do it, as then I will have to clean it all up in case she races down the stairs in the morning to find it.

The confetti-covered campo in Siena

Thinking about Siena, made me think about Italy, and that made me remember how much this daughter of mine always ordered ragu everywhere we went. I had ground turkey in the fridge and a can of tomatoes in my cupboard, and so, I was going to make ragu for dinner, all because of confetti. It was the perfect dish to end our lazy day (and delicious).


You will need: 3 or 4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil,2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, 1 large sweet onion, diced, 1 thinly carrot, sliced or diced, 1 stalk celery, chopped, 3 slices streaky bacon, chopped, 1 lb ground turkey, 1 28oz can tomatoes and their juices, chopped, 1 tbs tomato paste concentrate, 2 tbs freshly chopped oregano, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes, 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional), 1 tsp sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, 1 lb spaghetti pasta (I use Barilla brand).

1 – Prep all ingredients as instructed above.

Saute veggies

2 – Put large saute pan on medium heat and add oil. When it warms, add the bacon,  garlic, onions, celery and carrots. Saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add oregano, pepper flakes, salt and several grinds of pepper and cook for another 2 minutes.

add turkey, then tomatoes

3 – Add turkey and cook for another 5 minutes (turn heat up if you need to). Add the tomatoes, paste and bring to a boil. Turn heat down until sauce reaches a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.

*while sauce is cooking, put pot of water on for pasta and cook according to instruction. time the pasta to be ready when the sauce is completely finished. Reserve a cup of pasta water in case you need it to loosen your sauce*

Serve plain or with cheese

4 – Stir in cream and take off of heat.

To serve; place spaghetti in the bottom of a bowl, top with sauce, and add cheese if you like.

Things to do with cut-up paper and a single flower petal!