Turkey Bolognese Bianco Recipe

Ragu alla Bolognese, originating from the Bologna region of Italy, is a traditional meat-based sauce typically served with pasta. While it's never a bad thing to stick to the classics, recipe developer Taylor Murray has put a few twists on this dish that make this turkey Bolognese bianco recipe special and tasty in its own right.

First, let's start with the meat. While ragu alla Bolognese is usually made with beef, veal, or pork, this version uses ground turkey — a meat known for its lower fat content and versatility, which lends itself perfectly to this Italian staple. Murray's version of this dish highlights the turkey's lean quality while maintaining the rich, slow-cooked flavor that Bolognese is celebrated for. 

Instead of the classic tomato base, this 'Bianco' ("white" in Italian) version is made without tomatoes, relying on white wine, chicken broth, and Parmesan for its distinctive flavor and creamy texture. Murray also incorporates Italian broccoli rabe to add a nice vegetable element brimming with classic Italian flavor.

Gather the ingredients for turkey bolognese bianco

Anyone can make a quick, cheap pasta dish with a handful of ingredients. The secret to making a healthy yet delicious meal of famously dry ground turkey is to make sure you are bolstering the flavor with plenty of aromatics and additions. For this turkey bolognese bianco, choose a tube-shaped pasta like rigatoni. This pasta shape is perfect for filling with the delicious sauce. The ground turkey is pretty standard and can be found at any grocery store. The last main ingredient is broccoli rabe. Broccoli rabe, or rapini, is a cousin of broccoli and common in Italian cooking. It has a pleasant bitterness, though some prefer to cook that bitterness out. If you really don't like that flavor and need to make a substitute, broccolini or just plain broccoli would work well.

In addition to the main ingredients, you'll need some white wine for deglazing your pan, a good quality chicken broth (homemade is preferable), a shallot, a few cloves of garlic, Parmesan cheese, butter, red chile flakes, chives, parsley, and a little vegetable oil to get things going.

Cook the pasta and broccoli rabe

Heat a large salted pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta per package directions. When three minutes remain, add the chopped broccoli rabe. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Set aside while you make the sauce.

Cook the turkey

Meanwhile, add the vegetable oil to a saute pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and allow it to caramelize on one side before stirring. "One of the main problems people have with ground turkey is that it can be bland. We want to encourage as much browning as possible because this will translate to flavor in the final dish," says Murray. Once some browning has occurred, break up the turkey into small pieces and continue to stir it until every piece is opaque and cooked through. 

Add the aromatics and deglaze the pan

When the turkey has browned, add in the shallot and garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the white wine, and stir to pick up any stuck-on brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Let the wine simmer until it becomes syrupy and is reduced to a couple of tablespoons.

Add the stock and reduce

Add the chicken stock and chili flakes. Let reduce until only about ¼ cup of liquid remains. Fold the strained pasta into the sauce and turkey.

Stir in the final touches

Now it's time to incorprate some of the finishing touches to this dish. Fold in the butter and cheese. Once that's fully incorporated, add the lemon zest, chives, and parsley. 

Top with more cheese and serve immediately

Plate the pasta, sprinkling with additional cheese if desired. The pasta will taste the best fresh out of the pan, but will also keep covered in the refrigerator for five days. Freezing is not recommended. This dish is a complete meal on its own, though it would be excellent with a hunk of crusty bread and a nice chilled glass of white wine.

Turkey Bolognese Bianco Recipe
5 from 25 ratings
This twist on a classic ragu Bolognese highlights turkey's lean quality while maintaining the rich, slow-cooked flavor that Bolognese is celebrated for. 
Prep Time
Cook Time
Plate of bolognese bianco
Total time: 25 minutes
  • 12 ounces rigatoni
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  1. Cook the rigatoni pasta per package directions. When the pasta has three minutes left to cook, add the broccoli rabe to the pot. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, add the oil to a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the turkey and let cook until brown before breaking up into small pieces. Stir in shallot and garlic and cook one additional minute.
  3. Add the wine and stir to pull up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the wine has reduced and only about 2 tablespoons remain.
  4. Add in chicken broth and chili flakes. Simmer until reduced to ¼ cup, then fold in pasta and broccoli rabe.
  5. Add in the butter and cheese, then the lemon zest and herbs. Plate the pasta and top with additional cheese, if desired.
Calories per Serving 851
Total Fat 44.0 g
Saturated Fat 12.6 g
Trans Fat 0.3 g
Cholesterol 116.9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 71.4 g
Dietary Fiber 4.4 g
Total Sugars 5.2 g
Sodium 282.4 mg
Protein 40.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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