The last time I posted a recipe from my most recent trip to Italy, for homemade tagliatelle, I had an overwhelming response of comments and emails. As it should be. Everything I learned to make while there is a true culinary delight and I’m excited to be able to pass along that deliciousness to you here. Well, today’s recipe is one of my favorites from that trip, an authentic meaty ragù, inspired by the abundance of tomatoes and carrots that are practically spilling out of my seemingly-uncontainable backyard vegetable garden. (Not that I’m complaining!)
Indeed, as I circled the perimeter of my garden earlier this week, I was in awe at all it had yielded. Several large spheres of cabbage, a couple of bright green heads of broccoli, and a few very fat orange carrots, whose tops were starting to jut out from the earth, just begging to be plucked from the ground. Said carrots, were also interestingly twisted. A side effect of my planting them too close together earlier this summer. (Live and learn!)
In addition to all of these fresh goodies, I found a patch of roma tomatoes buried deep inside the sprawling leaves of the plant, practically hidden from the naked eye. And as I timidly reached my hand in to grab them, mindful of the cute spider who had set up her home smack dab in the middle of my tomato cage, I was astounded at just how many gorgeous romas there were.
I plucked a few and placed them in my basket. I parted the leaves, peered in, and spotted some more bright red. Reaching in again, I pulled out a few more. And so it went for several rounds until I had finally harvested all the ripe tomatoes who were just barely hanging onto the plant.
Looking down at the mass of them (about 16 in total), I felt accomplished, knowing that I had turned just a small seedling into what was about to become a hearty dinner for my husband and myself.
Well, I should really say dinners (plural) because what I’ve made today will freeze well over time. It will also accompany us on our camping trip later this week—homemade pasta + ragu heated over a campfire—I can’t imagine anything more satisfying.
Pappardelle al Ragù
Serves: 6 as a main
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion
- 2-3 carrots
- 3 ribs of celery
- 1.5 pounds of tomatoes (I used approx. 16 roma tomatoes)
- ¾ pounds of ground beef
- ¾ pounds of ground pork
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ cup of white wine
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
- 1/2 to 1 cup of beef broth (optional)
- parmigiano reggiano, for topping
Set a large skillet (I use a 15-inch cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Add butter and olive oil. Purée the onion, carrots, and celery in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the vegetables finely. Add vegetables to the skillet and cook until soft, about 20-30 minutes.
Purée the tomatoes and add to the skillet along with the salt, pepper, white wine, tomato paste and red pepper flakes (if using).
Using your hands, gently mix together the pork and beef. Add to skillet and increase heat to high. Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to low and cook for 1-2 hours. If it starts to dry out, add more wine or a little bit of beef broth, ¼ cup at a time.
Toss each serving with pappardelle, or even better, with homemade tagliatelle like here. If you’ve just made the fresh pasta, add in a little bit of the pasta liquid with the sauce and pasta while tossing to bring the two together. Top with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and serve.
Recipe adapted from the lovely Chef Maria at Agriturismo Nonno Tobia in Agerola, Italy.