Growing up, we used to eat Tallarín (tah-yah-REEN), at least once a week, and in different variations – we will explore those in later postings. More often than not, the sauce for the Tallarín de Carne contained ground beef because it was fairly inexpensive and quite accessible. Growing up in Ecuador, we really didn’t have an emphasis on “better for you” meats, i.e. chicken, turkey, etc, compared to more developed countries. Eating ground beef on a consistent basis was never a big deal – I am quite healthy as a matter of fact! However, as the years have passed and I have learned more about eating a balanced diet, – with the ocassional food splurge! – I have replaced my ground beef, for lean ground turkey.

I spent the afternoon brainstorming How could I make this Tallarín de Carne better – more flavorful. Since I knew I was using turkey, which tends to be a bland meat vs. beef, I knew I needed to come up with something good. I started with the idea of the traditional refrito, a base for just about every Ecuadorean dish. I decided to substitute the green pepper for jarred roasted red peppers. I also added two carrots; I felt that the sweetness of the carrots would help balance the acidity of the tomatoes and the tartness of the roasted red peppers. What made the sauce was the red wine – it added such a rich depth to it. Once you make your meat sauce this way, you will never want to eat spaghetti – or tallarín – any other way.

T’s Tallarín de Carne
Serves 4
Printable Version

1-1.5 lb ground lean turkey
1 28oz. can chunky crushed tomatoes (I normally buy the Furmano’s brand)
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 large roasted red peppers
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup table red wine, I prefer a merlot
Cilantro for garnish
1 lb. thin spaghetti


In a large, deep pan on medium-high heat, brown the ground turkey and season it with salt and pepper.

In a food processor, process the tomatoes, onion, pepper and carrots. Turn the heat of the turkey pan to medium and pour this mixture over the turkey. Add the tomato paste, the red pepper flakes, the wine and the bay leaves and mix. Simmer till cooked. Taste for salt and pepper and add some if necessary

Cook the pasta to an al dente consistency.

Drain the pasta, saving 1/2 cup of the water. Transfer the drained pasta to the meat sauce pan and incorporate. If the sauce has dried up too much, add the saved pasta water little by little until it is saucy again.

Serve with grated parmesan cheese and chopped cilantro.