chicken bolognese
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Summery Chicken Bolognese

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Now that it basically feels like summer here in DC, its seemed like the right time to look at lightening up some of my favorite recipes. A prime target is one of my favorite pasta sauces: bolognese. When you think of bolognese typically a heavy, hearty meat sauce comes to mind, so I wanted to go after that.

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So, I started with the meat selection. Normally, I go for pork, beef, or lamb which all tend to be a bit heavier. This time I went with chicken; chicken sausage to be specific. I like cooking with sausage since it helps give a good base flavor to the sauce since its got some spices and herbs. You could go with straight ground chicken if you can’t find sausage, but just keep in mind it will need more herbs/spices to get the flavors down.

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Now, on to the flavors. To keep this one nice and light, I started with a base of tomato puree. Its easy, creates a smooth texture, and allows for the sausage and other flavors to shine through. With that, I used some fresh AeroGarden grown basil of a few varieties to infuse the herby flavor. Let me say that Genovese basil grows HUGE leaves, just massive but very flavorful.

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I also added Calabrian chilis. These are become one of my favorite ways to add some kick to a sauce. They aren’t super spicy (still pack some punch though), but its the side flavors they bring. They come with an almost sweetness that really brightens ups the sauce.

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Lastly, I added some sun-dried tomatoes and sherry vinegar. The sun-dried tomatoes add a nice slightly salty element to help balance out the sweet and spicy without feeling heavy. The sherry vinegar is to give a little bit of bright acidity to the whole thing at the end.

We served the whole thing over some bow-tie pasta. I didn’t want to go with a long noodle necessarily and I rarely use bow-tie with red sauce. Plus, the shape is fun and always makes me think of summery pasta salads. So, in it went.

Chicken Bolognese

A lighter, healthier take on the classic meat sauce for pasta.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bolognese, bowtie pasta, calabrian chili, chicken, chicken sausage, farfalle, Italian, italian sausage, meat sauce, pasta, pasta sauce, ragu, sausage, sun-dried tomato
Servings: 4 People


  • 1 LB Bowtie Pasta
  • 1.25 Lb Chicken Sausage
  • 20 Oz Canned Tomato Puree
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Carrot chopped into small pieces
  • 3 Garlic Cloves finely diced
  • 4 Calabrian Chilis finely chopped
  • 4 Sun-Dried Tomatoes finely chopped
  • 4 Basil Leaves julienned
  • 1 Tsp Sherry Vinegar
  • 1/4 Tsp Oregano
  • 1/4 Tsp Red Pepper Flake
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  • Cook the pasta per package instructions, start the pasta at about the same time as you add the tomato to the sauce.
  • Heat about 1 Tbs of olive oil in a skillet or sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and carrot, cook for about 4-5 minutes or slightly softened.
  • Add the sausage, cook for about 7-8 minutes and mostly cooked through.
  • Add the garlic, sun-dried tomato, oregano, pepper flake, and calabrian chili, cook for an additional minute.
  • Add the tomato puree and 3/4 of the basil. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low while the pasta finishes cooking.

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