I have a dear Italian friend that inspired the name to my photography page. She is a wonderful cook, mother, wife and friend. I have had the great pleasure of dining at her home on several occasions. I think my absolute favorite dish she’s ever made for me is “Ragu”. It’s nothing like the actual Ragu you buy in a jar at the store, not even close. I’ve been to several places in Europe, but have not been to Italy (yet). However…this dish takes me there in a heartbeat. Paola (my beautiful Italian friend) never actually let me write down her recipe when we lived near each other because she always said if I had it then I might not come back to eat with her. That’s just not true, but I understand her reasonings.
I found this recipe online and have been using it for years because it’s the closest I’ve ever come to it tasting like her special secret recipe.
This dish is meant for children (my children devour it). It’s often prepared in childcare settings in Italy. It’s got hidden vegetables that most kids would probably rather not eat, but they make this meal SO delicious.
Next time you plan on having a house full of children I recommend this meal. It’s a part of our meal routine and highly sought after by my little loves.
- 3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 Tbs butter
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped
- 1 small celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 lb ground lean beef (I use grass fed beef, please don’t substitute the beef for ground turkey as it doesn’t hold the flavors the same)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup whole milk (for a richer taste substitute cream or use Chobani plain)
- 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups canned, whole peeled tomatoes, with the juice, coarsely chopped
- grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 box of Barilla (Italian) Picolini pasta ( Farfalle)
- Put the olive oil, 3 Tbs of butter, and the onion in a deep saucepan. Over a medium-high heat sauté the onion until it has turned a light golden color.
- Add the carrot and celery and continue sautéing until they begin to change color.
- Add the beef, breaking it up as you stir. Add salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is browned.
- Add the wine and cook until it is evaporated.
- Add the milk and the nutmeg and continue to cook, stirring, until most of the milk is evaporated.
- Add the tomatoes and stir. Once the tomatoes start to bubble turn the heat down to low. Simmer partially covered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Mix the sauce and noodles together
- Top with cheese, serve with garlic bread and a hearty salad
Note: The sauce is going to be thick. It will not look like traditional american pasta sauce.