Friday, December 3, 2010

Baked Rigatoni with Turkey Bolognese

This is a great dish to make when the weather starts to get cold... The slow simmering of the sauce allows the flavors to blend and concentrate and creates a delicious homemade tomato sauce that will make your mouth water. The base of a Bolognese sauce is a soffritto - basically an Italian version of a mirepoix.

The components of a soffritto typically include onion, carrot, celery and garlic, slowly sauteed in olive oil. The difference between the French version is that Italians use olive oil and garlic. This is also known as the Holy Trinity in Creole cooking, refogado in Portugese and sofrito in Spanish. Maybe you'll see these terms make a come-back in some of my later posts...

Traditional Bolognese sauce oringinated in Bologna, a city in Northern Italy. That is no where near where my family is from in Italy but worth stealing their recipes! Nowadays you can use any combination of meats, vegetables and a tomato based sauce to create Bolognese sauce. I love being able to use a little creativity in the kitchen! It's all about having fun right? I had a general idea of how to make this dish but I found a recipe that you can replicate from another awesome blog. I've copied it below:

To start the Bolognese:
1 tbsp canola oil
1 lb ground turkey
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

To finish the sauce:
1 tbsp canola oil (I always use olive oil)
8 cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced (I omitted this but used 1 stalk celery instead)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes (I used 2 cans)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 zucchini, large dice (left this out this time)
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

8 oz dried Rigatoni, cooked according to directions on package
3 oz Havarti, grated (I used only mozzarella, so doubled the amount needed)
3 oz part-skim mozzarella, shredded

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray an 8"x11.5" glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. Place a large pot of water over high heat. Add a large handful of salt. Bring to a boil.

Place a large saute pan over high heat. Add 1 tbsp canola oil. Once the oil is almost smoking hot, add the ground turkey to the pan. Sprinkle the turkey with the salt and pepper. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, break up the turkey. Allow the turkey to brown, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Remove browned turkey from pan, drain and set aside. Return saute pan to medium heat.

Add 1 tbsp canola oil to the saute pan. Add the cremini mushrooms, onions and carrots to the pan. Saute the veggies over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until the onions are translucent and the carrots are soft. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for another 1 minute. Add the dried basil and oregano. Saute for 1 more minute. Using your hands, individually crush the whole tomatoes into pan. Once all the tomatoes have been crushed, add the rest of the juice left in the can as well as the browned turkey back into the pan. Stir. Bring sauce to a simmer.

Simmer sauce over medium heat until nearly all of the liquid from the tomatoes has cooked away, about 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally. Once liquid has cooked away, taste and adjust seasonings as desired with salt and pepper. After about 20 minutes of simmering the sauce, boil the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain.

Add the cooked pasta, diced zucchini and basil to the finished sauce. Stir thoroughly to evenly coat. Pour the pasta and sauce into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle mozzarella and Havarti evenly over the top of the pasta. Place into a preheated 450 degree oven. Bake until the cheese is melted and golden in areas, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil if desired. Tutti Mangia!

* Bologna picture taken from


Alyssa said...

This couldn't look yummier! Why didn't you bring any leftovers in?

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