Easy Anytime Meat Sauce

Active time: 30 min. Total time: 1 hour, 20 min.
Yield: Serves 8 (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups)

This rich, meaty pasta sauce is full of bright tomato flavor and texture—it’s exactly the kind of thing you’ll want to stock in your freezer for the nights you absolutely do not want to cook. We used a mixture of ground turkey and turkey Italian sausage to keep things light, but feel free to use whatever ground meat you like best. If you’re using pork or beef, simply drain the excess fat before proceeding with the onions and garlic. Using a variety of tomatoes gives the sauce a little bit of sweetness and keeps things interesting texturally, while adding pesto provides some additional depth. Round it out with red wine for richness. Take your time with the final simmering step: This is where the sauce gets the most flavor. When adding the red wine, allow the mixture to come to a hard boil so the alcohol will burn off before proceeding. The sauce will have more of a red wine aroma rather than an alcoholic scent. This sauce works fantastically with your favorite pasta, but you can also layer it into lasagna or use it as a pizza sauce.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10ounces mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey meat (light and dark meat)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1small (6 oz.) yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons refrigerated basil pesto (such as Giovanni Rana)
  • 2garlic cloves, chopped (about 2 tsp.)
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine (from 1 [750-milliliter] bottle)
  • 1(28-oz.) can peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1(15-oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1(15-oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1(2- x 3-in.) Parmesan cheese rind
  • Chopped fresh herbs of choice (such as basil, rosemary, and oregano)

How to Make It

Step 1

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add turkey sausage and ground turkey; stir to break up large pieces. Add dried basil, salt, and garlic salt; cook, stirring often, until turkey is cooked and most of liquid has evaporated, about 14 minutes. 

Step 2

Add onion, pesto, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 7 minutes. Add wine, stirring and scraping bottom of Dutch oven to loosen any browned bits; bring mixture to a boil, and cook, undisturbed, 4 minutes.

Step 3

Stir in San Marzano tomatoes, using spoon to break them up and slightly mash. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste; stir well to combine. Add Parmesan rind. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, about 45 minutes. Remove Parmesan rind from sauce, and stir in chopped fresh herbs. 

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