This easy-enough-for-a-weeknight lamb ragu is the perfect rich, hearty, soul-warming meal!
I’m not the most organized person. For years, I stored all my important documents (passport, checks that needed to be deposited, social security card) in a vintage napkin holder on my dresser. When I do laundry, I can never be bothered to match socks–I just shove them all in the drawer in a big pile. My spice cabinet looks like a hurricane ran through it, and if you open the door, there is a significant chance a jar of cumin or a bottle of vanilla will tumble out and hit you on the head.
But one thing I am organized about it grocery shopping. I always bring a list to the supermarket. Just the thought of shopping without it gives me anxiety. What if I forget something important, like milk or eggs or those little cartons of yogurt with cookie crumbs on top that Owen loves?
Last week I was in a big rush, and when I got to the supermarket I realized that I had left my list at home. Nooooo! I almost gave up and went home, but we had nothing for dinner so I forged ahead, throwing a bunch of random stuff into my cart, including…a package of ground lamb. I honestly have no idea why. It was a total game time decision.
I thought about making lamb burgers or lamb meatballs, but it was a weeknight, and I really wanted something I could prepare in advance and then reheat when it was time for dinner. There was a little nip in the air, and some leaves were blowing around our front yard. A hearty, rich lamb ragu seemed like the perfect solution.
This recipe sounds–and tastes–incredibly luxurious, but it’s really drop-dead simple. Start by sauting some chopped onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in olive oil. Then add the ground lamb and cook until well browned. Next up, seasonings: salt, pepper, dried Italian herbs, and umami-rich tomato paste. Then deglaze the pan with a generous amount of red wine, add a can of crushed tomatoes and toss in a sprig of rosemary. Let it simmer for half an hour and that’s it!
We devoured this lamb ragu over rigatoni, but any big pasta shape will work. Or you could spoon it over polenta or hearty Italian bread. The flavors of the lamb, red wine, and rosemary are big and bold, so this doesn’t need much adornment. A sprinkle of Parmesan or a little scoop of fresh ricotta is all it takes.
Is there anything better on a cold fall night than curling up with a giant bowl of pasta with a rich, meaty sauce?
Any leftover ragu will freeze beautifully. In fact, with my due date in three months, I should probably make a big batch to stash in our freezer for after the baby is born. If I was a more organized person, I’m sure I would get right on that 😉
This lamb ragu is the perfect soul-warming dinner. I like to serve it over rigatoni, but you could also scoop it over polenta or hearty Italian bread. Leftovers can be frozen for up to three months.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion finely diced
- 1 carrot finely diced
- 1 stalk celery finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 - 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 can crushed tomatoes 28-ounce
- 1 spring fresh rosemary
Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook until the vegetables have softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
Add the lamb and cook, breaking up large chunks with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned and most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes (it's OK if there are still some lamb juices in the pan).
Add the salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and tomato paste and stir to combine. Pour in the red wine and cook until it has reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the rosemary spring, and simmer until the sauce has thickened and darkened slightly in color, and the flavors have blended, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary sprig. Serve over pasta, polenta, or hearty Italian bread.