Best Recipe: Turkey-Garlic Ragu

Cook’s Notes: This dish was inspired by a Giada De Laurentiis recipe for lamb and mint ragu with ricotta cheese and rigatoni. My friend Henry created this version after we spent the afternoon together and watched her show, Everyday Italian. We shopped for the ingredients at our local Trader Joe’s.

Henry is a classic intuition cook who “eyeballs” every measurement, so I followed after him to take notes. Ragu is a hearty pasta dish with a meat and tomato sauce. This wonderful one-dish dinner is loaded with vegetables and reheats easily.

This makes a lot of pasta, probably 12 servings.

Hardware: Large skillet, 6-quart pasta pot, and a 4-quart oval slow cooker used to hold and warm the sauce. This dish is not cooked in the slow cooker.

14.5 oz container Mirepoix (pre-chopped carrots, celery, and onion)
10 oz bag sliced cremini mushroooms
1 T minced garlic
20 oz package ground turkey
28 oz jar spaghetti sauce with garlic cloves
1 c Valpolicella red wine
12 oz package vegetable radiatore pasta
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz container mozzarella perlini (pearls)
Optional garnish: Fresh basil

Heat about 1 T olive oil in the large skillet and lightly saute the Mirepoix. Add the sliced mushrooms, and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, not soggy. Place the cooked vegetables in the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker to HIGH.

Add the garlic and ground turkey to the skillet. Break the turkey into small pieces. Cook the turkey until it is browned and no longer pink. Add the spaghetti sauce and the red wine and simmer the sauce until heated through.

Add the turkey sauce to the vegetables in the slow cooker. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Let the sauce warm in the slow cooker with the lid on (we left it for about an hour.)

Prepare the pasta in boiling water until it is al dente. Drain the pasta, and return it to the pasta pot. Working carefully, transfer the turkey sauce to the pasta pot. Stir well to combine all ingredients and mix the sauce and pasta.

Just before serving, mix in the mozzarella perlini. Stir gently to combine. Mozzarella balls will melt into the dish. Garnish with fresh basil to taste.