Carb-less Turkey Bolognese with Zucchini “Tagliatelle”

Thanks to guest writer - fashion designer Carlie Wong - for this amazing recipe!
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Lets start off by saying that I’m not a cook; I’m a fashion designer, a part-time teacher, a full-time sarcassist (not a word, I know) and a food enthusiast. I’ve spent the majority of my life in Vancouver BC, a city known for it’s natural beauty and diverse food culture. Needless to say, I’m used to eating a plethora of delicious things and I like to think that I know a thing or two about them.

These days however, (as a result of my binge eating, carbocidal ways), I’ve packed on quite a few pounds; and working with skinny models in the fashion industry makes me want to slit my wrists. In addition, with the holiday season upon us (full of fatty food, sugary treats and boozy drinks), I’m sure to pack on a few more. Thus, I’ve developed a fool-proof, low-fat, carb-less pasta dish that is sure to knock your socks off, regardless of whether or not you THINK you don’t like the taste of healthy foods. (Trust me…I was also once a non-believer.)

This guilt-free, delicious recipe substitutes lean turkey for ground beef, zucchini for pasta and nutritional yeast for cheese (don’t knock it ‘til you try it). You will need the following ingredients:

1 lb of extra lean ground turkey
6 slices of turkey bacon
1 large carrot
2 large stalks of celery
1 large onion (or 2 small ones)
1 cup of crimini mushrooms
½ cup skim milk (optional)
1 28oz can of plum tomatoes
2 tbsp of tomato paste
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp oregano
½ tsp sage
½ tsp rosemary
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp marjoram
chilli flakes
a pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil
fresh chopped parsley
nutritional yeast
a couple of zucchinis


Cut theturkey bacon into small pieces and sauté in a large pot or pan with a little EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) on medium heat. You want to coat the turkey bacon with a bit of oil, as it doesn’t brown the same way as regular bacon. (Note: you can also skip this step, if you don’t want to use processed ingredients). Now add your onions finely diced. It may seem like a lot of onions, but they will reduce as they cook. Sauté for 5 minutes, and then add your finely diced crimini mushrooms. Remember to season each layer with S&P (salt and pepper). Sautee for another 5 minutes until your mixture begins to caramelize.

Once the onions are transparent and slightly darkened in colour, you can add your finely diced carrots and celery. S&P this layer, and sauté for 10 min at medium low to develop the flavours and soften the veggies without browning them. This step is crucial in creating the depth of your Bolognese.

Time to add ground turkey to the pot. Season it how you wish. I like to add thyme, sage, rosemary and marjoram in equal parts, a lot of oregano and a pinch of nutmeg. At this stage, you want to add some finely diced garlic and sauté until the turkey is cooked through. Keep the temperature at medium low, as you don’t want the garlic to burn or get bitter.

Once the turkey is cooked through; you can add the tomato paste. Stir the paste in to coat your mixture and sauté for 5 minutes to develop its flavour. Your mixture will darken in colour. At this point, add your plum tomatoes. Don’t forget to S&P this layer again. Now you can also add chilli flakes. I like my Bolognese quite spicy, so I add 1 tsp of chilli flakes. If you just want a bit of spice you can add half of that, or skip it all together and add to taste at the table instead. You can also substitute this with chilli powder.

At this point, add ½ cup of skim milk. This will add richness to your dish, but is optional if you can’t have dairy or don’t want the extra calories. (You can add water instead, but a ½ cup of skim milk isn’t going to kill you). Bring it to a boil and then simmer on low heat for 2 hours. You can simmer with the lid on for the whole time, or, if you like your Bolognese thick like chilli (which is the way I like it), you can take the lid off for the last 30 minutes and keep stirring it as it reduces. Once the moisture is reduced to your preferred consistency, (and the flavours and colours have intensified), your Bolognese is done!

This recipe makes 6-8 portions depending on how much you eat. You can double it and freeze portions when cooled and it will keep nicely for months, but it definitely doesn’t last more than a few days in my house!

You can eat this Bolognese many ways, but I’m going to show you how to eat it the way it was intended; as a pasta dish; except I’m going to make a carb-less “pasta” by slicing zucchini into Tagliatelle-like ribbons with a vegetable peeler. (Yes, I’m a mad genius.)

Make however much “pasta” as you intend on eating, because (like traditional pasta) it is best cooked right before serving. You can also substitute zucchini with spaghetti squash, but I prefer the lightness of zucchini with this rich, thick Bolognese. You can either keep it raw for a different texture, or quick-blanch the Tagliatelle for a few seconds (literally) in salted boiling water, and transfer them into ice water to stop the cooking process and keep them al dente. Dry the zucchini on a towel before plating (don’t use paper towel as it tends to stick).

And that’s it! Top your dish with fresh chopped parsley, a drizzle of EVOO and a healthy sprinkle of nutritional yeast as a Parmesan substitute. For those of you who are scared to try nutritional yeast, I dare you to! It’s probably the best discovery I’ve ever made! It tastes like cheese, is packed with protein, fibre and nutrients (hence the name) and is a perfect alternative for people who are lactose intolerant (not that I am) or people who want all the flavour of cheese but none of the fat.

As mentioned before, this Bolognese can be used for anything. You can toss it with quinoa; put it on endive leaves as a fancy bite-sized snack (this works better if your Bolognese is reduced to a thick consistency); put it in wraps, make Sloppy Joes, serve it with roasted vegetables or even spoon-eat it, like how I do on a Friday night; home alone; while watching sad movies. I’m kidding…I watch the food network.

Another alternative to this dish is changing up the spices. If you use cayenne, paprika, coriander and cumin instead, then you’ve got yourself a turkey chilli! For extra authenticity, you can add some green bell peppers in with your carrots and celery, and a can of rinsed kidney beans along with your canned tomatoes.

Here’s to a slimmer waist and a delicious holiday season!

To check out the full-fat, just as yummy version that inspired mine, check out my sister’s online cooking show “Debbie Wong’s Wok and Gong” here:

For more info about my work, visit my website at
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