Healthy Turkey Bolognese with Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Classic Italian bolognese with a healthy twist… my Healthy Turkey Bolognese and Roasted Spaghetti Squash has turkey stand in for beef, and spaghetti squash stand in for pasta in an otherwise traditional bolognese!

Healthy Turkey Bolognese and Roasted Spaghetti Squash on a white square plate is low fat, low carb, gluten and dairy free, and delicious!

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – Eating “Mindfully”

I like the phrase “eating mindfully.” What does this phrase bring to mind? Mull it over in your mind for a moment or two…

So often, meal time is just another box that must be checked off our “to-do” lists. Family meals around the table have become a casualty of modern society, and the impetus behind the name of my blog. I love this quote by Catholic author Mary DeTurris Poust.

“So often, even when we stop to say a blessing before a meal, we’re mentally preparing to spoon some pasta or potatoes onto our plates. We’re not usually focused on the present moment, simply placing ourselves before our food and entering into the still, slow space where eating is done for eating’s sake and not something we do simply to get to the next thing on our list.

In relegating food consumption to a place in our lives of lowest priority, we miss an opportunity to feed more than just our physical bodies. Eating mindfully is good for your physical health, but I would submit to you that eating mindfully benefits your mental, and even your spiritual health, as well.  Ms. DeTurris Poust goes on to say:

“How we prepare our food, how we consume our food really makes a difference in how our food satisfies us and shapes the role we give food in our lives. Is it something we stuff in to satisfy an urge or something we savor to feed us physically and sustain us spiritually?”

~~ Mary DeTurris Poust, Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God

Like so many other areas of our lives, change is best accomplished incrementally… You might, for example, choose one night a week to prepare a special meal for a loved one. Be deliberate in planning the menu by considering time constraints, your skill level, time to shop and availability of ingredients, etc.

In other words, be practical, and don’t set yourself up for failure. Eating mindfully is not synonymous with elaborately, although at times eating elaborately has its benefits as well! With the resources available on the internet, planning the meal and your shopping list doesn’t even require time to peruse cookbooks.

Many websites offer healthy, “meals-in-minutes” approaches to menu planning. MyRecipes.com, a favorite of mine, offers “healthy, family-friendly recipes in 45 minutes or less,” 15-minute recipes, 5 ingredient recipes, etc. The website features a shopping list tool and the ability to keep your own personal recipe box. If you’re looking for inspiration to begin eating mindfully, you might want to give it a look!

I cook all but 1 or 2 nights of every month. Cooking feeds my soul… I am certainly mindful of the calories and nutritional value of the ingredients and meals I prepare. This is not to say discipline rules 100% of the time. 😉

🍗 About Healthy Turkey Bolognese

Most of the time, when planning meals, I stick pretty closely to a lowfat, lean proteins, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates diet. A dish that I have perfected over the years is bolognese with pasta. We have dear friends that keep us supplied with amazing elk meat. The slow-cooked meat sauce is fabulous with fresh pasta, and even more amazing in a Roman-style lasagna bolognese.

However, dishes such as these don’t fit our “diet” – such as it is. We only occasionally indulge in refined pastas and white rice based dishes. We do love the rich, slow-cooked flavor of the bolognese, so I was determined to come up with a similar dish that wouldn’t be such a guilty pleasure.

My quest was successful, culminating in this low-carb and gluten free bolognese sauce. The time required for this dish makes it a better choice for a weekend day.

The slow simmering and reducing of the sauce results in the same rich flavor we love in a beef, veal, or elk based sauce. One of our sons actually prefers it. I hope you will give it a try!

Healthy Turkey Bolognese and Roasted Spaghetti Squash on a fork in hand with a bottle of wine behind.
  • carrots
  • celery
  • onion
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • ground turkey
  • dry white wine, chardonnay, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc
  • bay leaves, fresh if possible!
  • good quality stock, chicken, beef, , turkey, veal
  • milk
  • carton or can of tomatoes, I love Pomi in the carton – diced
  • fresh ground salt and pepper

Spaghetti Squash

  • spaghetti squash
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • fresh herbs (oregano, basil, thyme)
  • salt and pepper
  • Italian parsley, for garnish
  • parmesan, for garnish

Turkey Bolognese

  1. Make the mire poix – This recipe starts with mire poix. This mixture of finely chopped carrots, celery, and onion is key. I use a Cuisinart food processor, but if you are patient, a very sharp knife works just as well. It is important that the vegetables be very finely chopped, as you want all the flavor, but not the chunks… Use a heavy dutch oven; enamel-coated cast iron with a cover is my preference. After the vegetables are finely chopped, add olive oil to your dutch oven, and bring it to medium-hot. Sauté the vegetables over medium-high heat until they begin to brown, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
  2. Cook the ground meat – Add the garlic, and continue to stir until the garlic is fragrant; avoid browning the garlic. When the vegetables are beginning to brown, add the ground meat. I like to use a potato masher to break up the meat more quickly. Continue breaking up the meat and stirring until well-combined and browned.
  3. Complete the sauce – De-glaze the pot with white wine. At this point, you should have some browned bits that have caramelized on your pot. Add the wine to de-glaze. Allow the mixture to simmer and reduce until the liquid is nearly gone. Add the stock or broth and bay leaf. Reduce heat to a low simmer and partially cover with the lid to allow steam to escape. When the stock is reduced by about half, add the tomatoes and milk. Again, allow it to simmer until reduced by half. Taste for seasoning.

NOTE: This process requires 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Don’t rush the process. 🙂 While the sauce simmers, prepare the spaghetti squash.

Healthy Turkey Bolognese sauce being cooked in a red Dutch oven with a wooden spoon, and roasted spaghetti squash in a black cast iron skillet with tongs.

Prepare the Roasted Spaghetti Squash

  1. Prepare the squash – Using a really sharp, strong knife, good cutting board, and a strong arm, slice the squash in half crosswise. Remove the seeds from the center of each half. Drizzle the squash with olive oil.
  2. Roast the squash – Roast on a cookie sheet in a 400° oven for about 40-50 minutes – depending on size. It should be tender when poked with a fork. I use “convection roast” on my oven, and reduce the time to 30-40 minutes on 375°. When the squash is tender, use a fork to remove the strands of flesh from the outer skin. Place in a bowl, and reserve until about 10 minutes before you wish to serve.
  3. Sauté the squash – In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and minced garlic. When garlic begins to sizzle, add the squash and fresh herbs (if desired.) Using a wooden spatula, stir the squash to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce to low heat until you are ready to plate.

Put It All Together!

Place about a cup of spaghetti squash on the plate, top with the sauce, garnish with freshly grate parmesan and chopped Italian parsley. Enjoy! This dish really is worth the effort.

  • Use a food chopper or processor to finely chop your vegetables unless you have the time and patience to chop all those veggies very, very finely! Be careful to not over-process.
  • We love crimini mushrooms in the sauce, and add them with the mirepoix. They are optional!
  • A potato masher is handy for breaking apart the ground meat.
  • This sauce freezes beautifully, and I always love putting half or more into freezer bags for a second meal. I do not freeze the spaghetti squash.
  • Reheat the sauce and spaghetti squash in the microwave for lunch the next day, or keep leftovers in the refrigerator up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

I want to mention this healthier bolognese sauce is perfect in my lasagna bolognese. The lasagna requires about 8 cups of sauce, and this bolognese recipe yields 6 cups of sauce.

If you love spaghetti squash, but don’t have time for bolognese, be sure to check out my Spaghetti Squash with Easy Sausage Marinara. It’s healthy, delicious, and ready in the time it takes to roast and sauté the spaghetti squash.

Lastly, I apologize for the infrequency of recent posts, and the poor quality of my photos! I am working on both… I am pretty amazing in the kitchen, and a pretty decent writer, but when the opportunity arises to do work that results in a paycheck, it takes precedence. 🙂 I am struggling to keep this up, and would love to hear from my readers that would encourage me to keep at it!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes.

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. This helps to offset the costs of maintaining my blog and creating awesome content! 😊

Healthy Turkey Bolognese and Roasted Spaghetti Squash Close Up

Turkey Bolognese with Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Classic Italian bolognese with a healthy twist… Ground turkey and spaghetti squash stand in for beef and pasta!
5 from 1 vote

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Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 400 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 carrots - cut in chunks
  • 2 stalks celery - cut in chunks
  • 1 large onion - cut in chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic - minced
  • 2 pounds ground turkey - see notes below
  • 1 cup dry white wine - chardonnay, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc
  • 4 bay leaves - fresh if possible!
  • 3-4 cups good quality stock - chicken, beef, , turkey, veal
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 26-28 carton or can of tomatoes - I love Pomi in the carton – diced
  • fresh ground salt and pepper - to taste
  • parmesan - for garnish
  • Italian parsley - chopped (for garnish)
  • 4-5 pound spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil - divided
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 tablespoons fresh herbs - finely chopped (oregano, basil, thyme)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Bolognese:

  • Add carrots, celery, and onion to the bowl of a full-sized food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. If you are patient, and your knife skills are good, of course you can chop by hand!
  • In a heavy dutch oven, heat olive oil to medium high heat. Add the minced vegetables. Saute until onions are translucent. Add garlic. Stir to combine.
  • Add the ground meat. Using a potato masher or wooden spoon, break up the meat, and stir until it begins to brown. You want to see some nice caramelization on the pot.
  • De-glaze with white wine. Add bay leaves. Simmer until most of the liquid is gone.
  • Add stock. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook until liquid is reduced by half.
  • Add milk and tomatoes. Cover pot about 3/4 of the way with the lid. Cook on a low simmer for 1-2 hours. Add additional stock as needed.
  • Sauce should be thick, but not dry.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with shaved parmesan and chopped parsley.

Spaghetti Squash:

  • Preheat to 400 degree oven (375 on convection).
  • Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Be careful! They are very hard, and knife will resist.
  • Scoop seeds from the center of both halves.
  • Place cut side up on a cookie sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  • Roast until tender and barely beginning to brown – about 45-60 minutes depending on size (20% less in convection ovens.)
  • Allow to cool until you can handle the squash. Using a fork, remove the flesh from the skin to a large bowl. Set aside.
  • When dinner is 10 minutes out, heat a bit of olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic. Stir until fragrant.
  • Add the strands of spaghetti squash. Stir 5-6 minutes.
  • Add the fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Check for seasoning.

To Serve:

  • Top the spaghetti squash with a generous scoop of bolognese. Garnish with shaved parmesan and chopped parsley. Enjoy!

Notes

I typically use a 50/50 mixture of ground turkey and turkey Italian sausage. I also make this recipe with ground elk, pork, beef, and a combination of lean ground meats. Feel free to vary it.
Remember, bolognese is a meat sauce, not a tomato sauce.
You can certainly serve this over pasta, but if you’re looking to lower carbs and calories, spaghetti squash is awesome!
I do usually add about 8 ounces of chopped cremini mushrooms. This is optional. If you choose to use them, add with the mire poix. Mushrooms are totally optional.

Nutrition

Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 22g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

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4 Comments

  1. Didn’t know that mire poix was a mix of diced vegetables. So many great meals start that way, including this one. Just the smell of the dish simmering on the stovetop would lead to mindful cooking. What a delicious healthy meal!

  2. Sounds so yummy! I think Ryan and I might have to try this one… maybe with elk or oryx? I have a freezer full of game meat!