Despite being raised in an Italian family, I did not grow up eating meat sauce with my pasta. I ate just about every other sauce I can think of, but meat sauce just wasn’t our thing. (Maybe it’s because I refused to eat any meat other than chicken for the first eight or nine years of my life…) I never really knew that I was missing anything until John took me to his parents’ house for his birthday meal the first year we were dating. Ever since John was little, his birthday dinner request was always the same: spaghetti with meat sauce. After eating that meal one time with his family, I understood why he loved it so much!
While this ragù is not the same as the meat sauce of John’s youth, he claims to love it and has already told me he plans to request it as his birthday meal next year! I am equally happy with this sauce because while it completely satisfies all of John’s criteria for a good meat sauce, it is also low-fat and full of delicious veggies for an added nutritional kick! In the strangest way, the veggies really just contribute to the meatiness of this ragù.
I have written this recipe to be prepared with delicata squash, which is very similar to acorn and spaghetti squash and right between the two in size. When cooked, it is tender and sweet. It has no fat, which just makes it taste so much sweeter! My favorite way to eat this sauce is with delicata squash because the natural sweetness of the squash goes so well with the sauce. This said, the sauce could obviously also be served on pasta for a more traditional meal. I calculated the calories for this meal using 1/8 of the pot of sauce, but I often use less than this myself because I prefer a higher squash to sauce ratio.
While there are many ingredients in this sauce, it is fairly quick to get on the stove and then requires minimal effort while it cooks and the flavors marry. I love to make this for dinner and then take the leftovers to work for lunch during the week as it travels and refrigerates well. Also, the sauce is perfectly freezable – you could use a gallon sized freezer bag or a large freezable tupperware and get it down a day in advance when you’re ready to use it. This is certainly a new family favorite!
- 1 lb. lean ground turkey
- 8 oz. hot italian turkey sausage, chopped
- 1 carrot, grated (1/2 cup)
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced (or more if you LOVE garlic like me!)
- 1 large eggplant, diced
- 10 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 tbsp. dried basil
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 4 delicata squash
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil. When hot, add the onions and stir to coat. Cover for a few minutes until onions release their liquid. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until onions just begin to turn golden. Add the garlic and bell pepper and cook until pepper begins to soften. Add both types of turkey and cook until browned. Add carrot, eggplant, and mushrooms and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Pour in both cans of crushed tomatoes, wine, and grated parmesan. Add the bay leaf, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper and stir until well combined. Cover and allow to come to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for an hour and a half, stirring occassionally.
- When there are thirty minutes left before the sauce is done simmering, pierce the skin of four delicata squash with a knife a few times and microwave on a microwave-safe plate on high for 6-8 minutes per pound (approximately 24-30 minutes). At 15 minutes, stop time and check squash before continuing to cook.
- When squash is cooked, cut them in half length-wise and scoop the seeds out of the cavity with a spoon. Scoop sauce into the cavity of the squash and top with a tablespoon of shredded parmesan.
- Serve immediately!
- Serving Size: 1/2 a squash with an eighth of the sauce ・327 calories per serving
- If you are cooking for a smaller crowd, make the same amount of sauce, but make fewer squash. You can freeze the leftover sauce for another day!