Friday, 4 July 2014

Slow cooker turkey spaghetti bolognese (paleo friendly)

Working full time means I love my freezer meals, and by that I don't mean a ready meal that I grab out of the freezer, I mean something that I've cooked in bulk and frozen that I take out to defrost in the morning and reheat when I get home.

When I've had a hard day at work, usually when I'm working on the deadline, nothing beats coming home from to a meal that takes practically no effort to make, yet tastes great.

Slow cooker turkey spaghetti Bolognese with zucchini noodles.

My slow cooker has become my best friend since starting my first permanent job in journalism almost a year ago. I can't believe I've been living in Scotland for almost a year, that seems crazy, it has gone so fast.

On a weekend I love putting my slow cooker on while I potter around the house, usually photographing recipes or cleaning.

The enticing smells wafting through the house when this Bolognese was cooking was enough to make my mouth water. Once cooked it was hard to resist not grabbing a bowl and ladling myself out a portion right there and then. After a cheeky spoonful (or two) to taste I divided the spag bol into four Tupperware boxes and usually either shove them all in the freezer or pop a couple in the fridge for when I get in late on a Monday, which is always my late day as I'm on deadline.

Slow cooker turkey spaghetti Bolognese with zucchini noodles.

This is one of James' favourite dishes that I make even though it is chock full of veggies that he usually wouldn't eat like mushroom and celery. I've mentioned before that he isn't the biggest veg fan, but in the slow cooker the turkey and vegetables cook down into a flavoursome Bolognese.

Slow cooker turkey spaghetti Bolognese with zucchini noodles.

I don't eat beef so I make my spag bols using turkey mince, which is a little lighter than minced beef, lamb or pork, but with the right flavours it is delicious.

Garlic is one of those go to ingredients to add flavour, and while I often add garlic to my pasta dishes, it works beautifully with turkey. I've made turkey mince dishes without garlic just to see what it would be like and it doesn't taste half as good. Turkey with garlic and with rosemary, thyme or parsley it is perfect.

Slow cooker turkey spaghetti Bolognese on a fork.

There is secret ingredient to this spaghetti Bolognese that gives it a little extra oomph and pizzazz.

The secret ingredient is...a splash of red wine vinegar.

It adds depth and richness to the dish.

Slow cooker turkey spaghetti Bolognese on a fork.

I paired the spag bol with zucchini noodles for the photographs, which it works really well. But if you don't have a spiralizer I've also eaten the it with wholewheat pasta, quinoa spaghetti and a baked sweet potato (not all in one go, I'm not that much of a greedy guts, but at different times) and all of them are tasty.

When I first tried zoodles after I splurged on a spiralizer (actually it wasn't a big splurge as it only cost me £30 from Amazon) I didn't think it would be enough nor that it would be filling. I was wrong. From a medium zucchini you get a load of spaghetti that is surprisingly satisfying.

I didn't actually know what zucchini was for ages. I'd heard it mentioned on US dramas and sit-coms, but just figured it was a veg that wasn't eaten in the UK. But after I had some gorgeous zucchini soup when J and I were in Egypt I researched (Googled) what zucchini was and found out that is what we Brits call courgettes.

But I think I shall stick to calling zucchini noodles zoodles instead of coodles because that sounds like some slushy form of cuddle or something that children another says another child has when their in the playground.

Slow-cooker turkey spaghetti bolognese

by Nikki Mitchell
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 4-8 hours
Keywords: slow-cooker dinner oil-free paleo gluten-free turkey zucchini courgette Italian
Ingredients (Serves 4)
  • 500g (17.6 oz) turkey breast mince
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 3 large (or six medium) chestnut mushrooms
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced/crushed
  • 3 tbsp freshly chopped or dried rosemary
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped or dried oregano
  • Peel and chop finely the chop the vegetables.
  • Put the turkey mince in the slow cooker and break up a bit with a fork.
  • Add the vegetables, chopped tomatoes, herbs, garlic, tomato puree and red wine vinegar to the slow cooker and mix everything together with a spoon.
  • Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low in the slow cooker.
  • If you can, every couple of hours give the Bolognese to stir so that the juices don't all float to the top and soak into the meat.
  • You will know when it is cooked when the carrot and celery are soft.
  • Serve with zucchini/courgette noodles/spaghetti, pasta or a baked sweet potato.
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What's your favourite slow cooker dish?

Have you tried zucchini/courgette pasta?

What other veg was works as a great pasta substitute? 


  1. Lovely recipe! Love using my slow cooker too. So handy and so handy that you can freeze this too. And sneaking vegetables in so your fella is unaware - very smart ;-)

    1. I'm sneaky like that. Haha. If I don't tell him what is in it he will eat it.

  2. I've been looking for a summer dish that is hearty, but not heavy. Pretty sure I just found it! :)


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