This was a great mid-week dinner. Wednesday is the day my kids are a little tired of the school week but in the evening are beginning to look forward to the weekend (I know that’s wishing their young lives away, but this is a hard lesson to teach little people who think they will live forever!).
I put this sauce together the moment I got in the door and that left me free to do all of those other things that needed to be taken care of (science project panic!). I wanted to use a lighter meat for the ragu and I had some turkey that I though would work. It was not ground, but that didn’t bother me (Ragu is made with ground meat but f you don’t have it, don’t worry about it).
I was a little concerned with the meat not having as much flavor as say lamb or pork, so I added some bacon. I think bacon is the secret ingredient that waylays lots of disasters!
It was really lovely and made the hum-drum feeling that Wednesdays can bring fade away.
* This ragu sauce can be made the day before (or in the morning) and reheated slowly on the stove-top while the pasta is cooking*
You will need:
1 tbs olive oil
8 strips bacon (streaky), sliced into 1 inch pieces (approx.)
1 lb turkey cutlets, cut into bite-sized pieces (thin sliced turkey breast – if you can only find whole fillets, slice it yourself)
1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
3 cloves garlic,
2 or 3 tender inner celery ribs, including leaves
1 28 oz can tomato puree (894 grams)
2 tbs tomato paste ( sun-dried or smoky varieties are fine to use)
2 cups water
1 tsp sea-salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs cold unsalted butter (optional)
6 cups freshly chopped spinach
1 1/4 lbs rigatoni pasta, or another hearty pasta like bucatini, ribbed penne or shells (I use Barilla brand)
1 1/2 cups Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated (optional)
1 – Put large saute pan on medium heat and add the oil and chopped bacon. Cook until bacon starts to get crispy (anywhere from 8 to 10 minutes).
2 – Season the turkey with the salt and several grinds of black pepper and add to the pan. You will have to turn up the heat slightly. Cook turkey until it takes on a white color (about 5 to 8 minutes). Stir occasionally.
3 – While meat is cooking, prep the veggies: slice carrot, onion and celery into chunks and add to a food processor with the garlic cloves. Pulse until it resembles large rubbly bits.
4 – Add the veggies to the pan and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes (adjusting the heat down slightly).
6 – Add the tomato paste, tomato puree, water, and chili flakes. Bring to a boil. When it boils, turn it down, cover and simmer at a bare bubble for about 2 hours. Check every 1/2 hour (or less) and give it a stir. If it gets very thick, add a 1/2 cup of water at a time to adjust consistency. However, it should be very thick.
7 – Add the chopped spinach and stir. (*at this point put the pasta on and cook according to instructions – do not rinse pasta and reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water before draining to add to sauce if necessary*)
8 – Cover and cook for a further 12 or so minutes, stirring once during this time. Turn off heat. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning if necessary (salt, and/or pepper). If it is thicker than you would like, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water. Stir butter (if using) into sauce.
Divide pasta between warmed shallow bowls or plates and top each with a helping of Ragu. Pass some grated Parmigiano Reggiano and pepper flakes at the table.