This veggie-loaded turkey bolognese sauce is a great way to get extra veggies in at dinner.
Today I’m sharing one of our family favorite dinners, veggie-loaded turkey bolognese. Of course, I just call it “turkey bolognese” when I refer to it with the kids.
This dish came about when I tried to create a pasta sauce that my non-marinara loving younger son, Henrik, would like. Like traditional Italian bolognese, it contains a little tomato paste, but it looks like more of a shredded carrot and meat sauce.
Gateway Meals for Picky Eaters
Interestingly enough, since I started making this 6 months ago, he now likes marinara sauce! I guess you could call it a stepping stone or “gateway” meal. I have found this approach to work so many times when introducing new or previously disliked foods. Take a food they like, tweak it just a little, and try it out.
This is also a way to gradually add more veggies to a meat-loving child. For example, once my kids both liked ground beef tacos I started adding finely chopped kale to the mixture, it was a success! I’m still working on getting my kids to love beans and lentils, but I think you could a little bit to a sauce like this and it would be accepted.
This veggie-loaded turkey bolognese is a delicious way to get more veggies into your family! Click To Tweet
Healthy Comfort Food
Pasta bolognese was also one of my favorite meals growing up. So it’s pure comfort food for me. Even back then my mom was grating carrots and other root veggies into the sauce, so it was healthier than I realized. (Of course, I also always added a dollop of ketchup to my serving! A little extra sweetness and a Swedish kid thing–ketchup on everything!)
Like my version, my mom’s version never had much tomato sauce in it. This allows all the other veggies to really shine and is great for people who limit red sauce since it sometimes triggers heartburn (um, yep, that would be me!) Of course, my older son, Elliott, absolutely loves red sauce, so sometimes I add a little bit of Rao’s Homemade marinara sauce to half of this bolognese. It’s delicious either way.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 carrots, shredded
- 1 pound ground turkey
- ¾ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 large zucchini, shredded
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup reduced sodium chicken stock (+ more as needed)
- Heat olive oil in a large saute pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the turkey, stirring and breaking apart into little bits as it cooks, for about 5 minutes or until cooked through. Add the zucchini and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. Add the tomato paste and broth and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
Make it more of a red sauce by adding a cup of marinara sauce towards the end of cooking.
Pile in even more veggies: mushrooms, spinach, and parsnips would all be delish.
Go spicy and add red pepper flakes.
Go vegan and add cooked chickpeas and red lentils instead of turkey and veggie broth instead of chicken broth.
Make it Swedish kid style and add a dollop of ketchup when serving!