A 30-minute weeknight “bolognese” – curly broken lasagna noodles in a lightened-up turkey tomato sauce.
We all get nostalgic about food. I do for sure. I was lucky to have a 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.
I loved eating that sauce with endless bowls of macaroni, but honestly I know I’ll probably never duplicate mama’s cooking. Instead, I make a quick, everyday sauce to serve over broken lasagna pasta that makes everyone in my family happy.
It’s “weeknight bolognese” for the busy, modern family.
This sauce is lighter, quicker, leaner; not an hours-long simmered one stewed with bigger, fattier cuts of meat. I often use ground turkey thigh meat instead of pork or beef, and it’s pretty delicious.
Of course, this sauce goes with any pasta shape you like, but lasagna noodles 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 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.
broken lasagna noodles with modern meat sauce
Yield 4 - 6 servings
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 pound ground turkey thigh
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 14.5-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- Crushed red chili pepper
- Handful Italian parsley leaves, chopped
- 1 pound dried curly lasagna noodles
- a hunk of 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 turkey.
- Cook the turkey until it's no longer pink, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt, black pepper and chili to taste 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 (at least 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. Grate some cheese over each serving.