As we dry off our tears that summer is ending, let’s send it off with one last hurrah. It will be another 10 months until we can get our hands on the year’s greatest produce, so really soak it up.
My favorite way to send off summer is by paying homage to all those amazing, juicy heirloom tomatoes and creating a delicious turkey Bolognese sauce. I like to use heirloom tomatoes because they have thin skins, making it unnecessary to peel them before cooking. This recipe works great for any overripe or slightly bruised tomatoes you might have sitting on your counter.
In simple terms, Bolognese is an Italian meat sauce that simmers for hours to create a rich and decadent gravy. That might sound tedious, but once everything is added to the pot it’s really a “set it and forget it” process. Traditionally, Italians use ground beef or pork (or both!), but in an effort to lighten things up I like to use ground turkey. Feel free to use what you’re comfortable with ― the amount of meat stays the same, whichever you choose.
The base of the sauce starts with mirepoix (a fancy name for sautéed onions, carrots and celery) and tomato paste to give a concentrated umami flavor. After the turkey is added and cooked through, the pan is deglazed with red wine and cooked until all the alcohol has evaporated. Next goes in aromatics, milk and lots of fresh tomatoes. Adding milk might sound unorthodox, but it’s the secret to keeping the meat tender and the sauce velvety. It’s important to use warmed milk so the sauce doesn’t curdle when it’s added. Toward the end of the cooking process, I throw in a few whole cherry tomatoes to add acidity and balance out the sweetness of the stewed sauce.
I normally serve the Bolognese over a flat noodle pasta, but if you have any zucchini lingering in your fridge it’s also great over zoodles. Lastly, I like to finish the dish with a generous dollop of herbed whipped ricotta to add a creamy, fresh element.
Have leftovers? Freeze it and dig it out in those cold winter months when you’re dying for a taste of that summer sunshine.
End of Summer Turkey Bolognese with Herbed Whipped Ricotta
Serves 4 to 6
Bolognese and Pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 large celery stalk, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 1/2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cored and diced into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 pound cooked fettuccine (or your favorite noodle)
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
Herbed Whipped Ricotta
1. Preheat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
2. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add ground turkey, breaking up with spatula, and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Season with salt.
5. Deglaze the pan with red wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
6. Add heirloom tomatoes, warmed milk, bay leaf, thyme, 1/2 cup water and 2 teaspoons kosher salt.
7. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 2 hours until sauce has thickened. Stir periodically while it’s cooking to ensure it doesn’t burn. Add water as necessary if sauce is getting too thick before it’s finished cooking.
8. Add cherry tomatoes and cook just until softened, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf and checking for seasoning. Season with salt if needed.
9. Meanwhile, place ricotta and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Add basil and thyme leaves. Pulse until herbs are finely chopped.
10. Serve Bolognese over cooked pasta with generous dollop of whipped ricotta on top. Garnish with Parmesan as desired.