School Spaghetti


Don't pretend you don't want to grab a spork and dive in.

Don't pretend you don't want to grab a spork and dive in.


As we start to settle into fall we decided it would only be appropriate to make some classic comfort food. “But Jake, Thomas,” you say, “I always hated spaghetti day in middle school.” Quit whining or we’ll give you a wedgie. This healthier version of the infamous cafeteria cop out (who knows what they used for meat, and what was that pasta made of, wallpaper paste?) is more Spaghetti alla Bolognese than slop-that-the-bully-dumped-on-my-head. Quick and easy to make, canned tomatoes and fresh basil lift take this dish from awkward memory to sure-to-please standby.

Equipment Needed:Chef’s Knife, Cutting Board, two 3 QT Pots (or something close), Saute Pan (ok, frying pan), Wooden Spoons, Stove Top

Serving Suggestion: Individual Plating

Servings: 4

Suggested Wine Pairing: Sangiovese, Chianti, Tempranillo, Malbec

Suggested Beer Pairing: Peroni, Lighter Ales


  • 1lb ground turkey ($5.99/lb)
  • 1 medium yellow onions ($.99/lb )
  • 6 cloves garlic ($2.99/lb)
  • 1 lb vermicelli (aka angel hair) pasta ($1.49/package)
  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes ($2.99)
  • 8-10 leaves of fresh basil (about $3/package)
  • 1 TBSP crushed red pepper (about $2/jar) 
  • 1 TBSP sugar ($1/lb)
  • 1-2 TBSP Italian seasoning (about $4/jar)
  • Extra virgin olive oil ($9.99/34 oz bottle)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Sauce Preparation

  • It’s important to start this part first so you can allow the flavors to develop. Mince three of your cloves of garlic.
Mince that garlic!

Mince that garlic!

  • Then dice your onion. You want tiny pieces about a quarter of an inch each or less.
Dice that onion!

Dice that onion!

  • Place one of your pots over medium-low heat and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. When it starts to shimmer add the garlic, onions and a dash of salt and pepper. Stir periodically until they’re pretty well softened (about 5 minutes).
Stir those ingredients!

Stir those ingredients!

  • Pour in the can of crushed tomatoes and add the sugar, crushed red pepper and another dash of salt and pepper. Stir everything together and reduce the heat to low.
  • Rinse and stack your basil leaves on top of one another. Roll them into a tube like a cigarette (or just a tube for those of you that have never rolled a cigarette), and slice it crosswise into thin strips. congratulations! You’ve just done your first chiffonade (Google it)!
Chiffonade that basil!

Chiffonade that basil!

  • Toss the basil into the sauce and stir it occasionally.
  • Before you do anything else, add about two quarts of water to your other pot and place it over high heat. This will be for your spaghetti and you want to time it so that you can toss the pasta in to coincide with the turkey’s readiness.
  • Mince your other three garlic cloves and put your your saute pan over medium heat.
  • Pour in about three TBSP of olive oil an toss in your ground turkey and the rest of your garlic once that’s shimmering. Add a dash of salt and pepper and the Italian seasoning and allow the turkey to brown, stirring every so often so the meat cooks evenly and doesn’t burn. This should take about 10 minutes or so. 
Season and brown that turkey!

Season and brown that turkey!

  • At the same time, once your pasta water starts boiling, add a few dashes of salt and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (if Italians do it, you should too). Toss in your vermicelli and stir occasionally (so much occasional stirring) so things don’t clump together. It’s done when the pasta is soft, but still has some bite to it (that’s al dente for you lay people). This should take about 5-6 minutes (the package will undoubtedly give a totally different time, but when was the last time you listened to a cardboard box?).
  • Your meat is cooked properly if  it exudes clear liquid, something you can check by putting a couple pieces on a paper towel. Anything else is too bloody when you’re dealing with poultry and trust us, you don’t want to go down that road. Once cooked, pour in the tomato sauce that you’ve had simmering on the side and mix everything together.
Mix it up!

Mix it up!

  • Drain your pasta (but don’t rinse it, again..Italians don’t, you don’t). Use a bowl to serve and spoon some of that delicious meat sauce over top. Scarf down, sigh contently and repeat.

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