Recipes don't get much easier than this one. Throw everything in the Crock Pot, let it be, and later in the day a healthy, crowd pleasing dinner is served!
We often have my vegetarian marinara sauce on pasta around here, but sometimes we're in the mood for a meaty pasta sauce. So, I started with my marinara sauce recipe and modified it a touch for the slow cooker. I added some ground turkey in place of the usual ground beef or pork in a meat sauce to cut down on fat and calories and pump up the protein. The result is a savory, hearty sauce that's as good as those higher calorie versions. It freezes well, too.
Nutritional Information (for 3/4 cup serving of sauce made with ground turkey breast). 201 calories, 8g fat, 11.4g carbs, 3.4g fiber, 6.8g sugar, 18.9g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 5
Step-by-step photos for making
Slow Cooker Ground Turkey Pasta Sauce
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients:
Step 2. Put the minced garlic and chopped onion in a bowl; stir in the olive oil. Microwave for 2 minutes, stopping and stirring after the 1st minute. Why? This is a short-cut so you don't have to saute these aromatics as is usually necessary--a handy tip I learned from my favorite slow cooker cookbook: Slow Cooker Revolution Cookbook from America's Test Kitchen. Of course, you can saute them on the stove-top, if you'd rather.
Step 3. Coat the slow cooker with cooking spray and add all of the ingredients (minus the turkey) and give it a stir.
Step 4. It's not necessary to brown the raw turkey before adding it to the slow cooker. I've tried it both ways, and couldn't tell the difference. (Yay!) Drop the raw turkey into the sauce mixture in small chunks. Tap down the turkey pieces so they are partially immersed in the sauce; but don't stir and break the turkey apart too much. You want it to remain in small chunks while it cooks to maintain a good finished texture.
Step 5. Put the lid on and cook on low for 6-7 hours.
Below is how mine looked when I lifted the lid after 7 hours of cooking. A quick stir and it's ready to serve. It's chunky and hearty. I like it that way. If you like yours smoother, you can chop up the turkey chunks into smaller pieces with the spoon edge as you stir.
I served mine over whole wheat linguini with garlic toast (my garlic bread spread recipe is coming in my next post).
I like to sprinkle on a little chopped fresh Italian parsley or basil and grated Parmesan cheese.
Freeze it! This recipe makes approx. 9 cups of sauce. I transfer leftover sauce to wide-mouth pint jars, screw on plastic lids, and freeze it. One jar is the right amount for King-Man and me for a meal. It is so convenient to have this healthy sauce in my freezer to thaw for a quick dinner. If you freeze the sauce in jars, make sure you leave 3/4" at the top to allow for expansion.
Since I opened a bottle of wine to add to the sauce, I figured I might as well pour a glass to have with my pasta. Wouldn't want it to go to waste. That would just be wrong.
It's a healthy, hearty, delicious meal. Hope you like it, too.
Make it a Yummy day!