A full-flavored weeknight meat pasta sauce, featuring broken lasagna noodles in a quick and hearty tomato meat sauce.
We all get nostalgic about food.
I do for sure. I was lucky to have an Italian grandma who slow-cooked the sauce for Sunday pasta until it was the color of oxblood leather — deep, dark burgundy — and the meat in the pot fell into tender pieces on a fork.
Eating that sauce with endless bowls of macaroni was fantastic, not to mention deeply satisfying.
But, to be honest, I know it’s impossible to duplicate Mama’s cooking, or the memories formed around it.
Instead, for my family a quick, everyday pasta sauce does the job very well. It never fails to get everyone excited to sit at the table together for dinner.
It’s a weeknight bolognese sauce for a busy, modern family.
This sauce is lighter, quicker and leaner. Although it’s not an old-school “gravy” simmered for hours with large hunks of fatty meat cuts, the flavor is still amazing.
I use ground turkey thigh or pork meat seasoned with garlic, fennel seed and black pepper and the sauce turns out incredibly delicious, even after just 30 minutes of simmering.
Of course, this sauce is perfect to accompany any pasta shape you like.
Wavy lasagna noodles or curly pasta shapes are really perfect because the ridges and curls grab onto the chunky bits in the sauce. Plus, it’s kind of fun breaking the noodles into pieces!
We might not always have the time to cook like our grandmothers did, but I’ll gladly trade that time spent in the kitchen with a relaxed meal around the table, any night of the week.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey thigh (or ground pork)
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 14.5-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper (to taste)
- 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 1 pound dried curly lasagna noodles
- Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- Put the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven and place over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring frequently so it doesn't brown. Once the onion is soft, stir in the garlic and meat.
- Cook until the meat is no longer pink, stirring and breaking it ups with a wooden spoon. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt, black pepper, fennel and chili and the tomatoes. Lower the heat to a simmer and partially cover the pan. Cook for 20 - 25 minutes. Add the parsley and taste the sauce for seasoning (I usually find it needs a little more salt).
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot (5 - 6-quarts) to a boil. Add three tablespoons salt. Break the lasagna noodles into rough pieces about 2 inches long.
- Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well and add to a large serving bowl with the sauce. Serve with cheese sprinkled over the top.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 605 Total Fat: 34g Saturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 22g Cholesterol: 165mg Sodium: 464mg Carbohydrates: 31g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 5g Protein: 45g