Tag Archives: easy ragu


Some nights I crave (in the biggest possible way) something like this! It has to be pasta, and that pasta has to be weighed down with something rich and luscious. There is no better combination of flavors and textures then a meaty pasta and sauce, (and of course a glass of good wine completes the picture of what my craving looks like!).

ragu with calamarata pasta

ragu with calamarata pasta

I discovered a new dry pasta that I have become addicted to, and look for ways and excuses to cook it as much as possible. When I was shopping in the pasta section of the infamous Eataly (read more on this wonderful Italian market HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE!) in NYC the for the very first time, I had never seen so many varieties of pasta since being in Italy. I choose a few different brands to try out and my very favorite was the Rigorosa brand. It is dense and chewy in the best possible way.


My favorite dried pasta brand, Rigorosa (love their Bucatini)

I now stock up on it every time I visit, but since I eat pasta more than I go to NYC,  I was very happy (and surprised) to discover that my mediocre supermarket stocked another brand that I also bought in Eataly. It is made by Garofalo and my favorite is their calamarata pasta, (or calamari pasta – aptly named!). It sops up sauce like no other and has a great toothsome bite. There is nothing remotely wimpy about this pasta and I would feel confident serving it to a table of hungry giants.

calamarata pasta

calamarata pasta by Garofalo

It handled this ragu marvelously, and if you can scour out a good thick-ringed brand of pasta like this, you should try the recipe too. It is served with a ragu, and this one, as with most of the ones I end up making, was determined but what I had to go with my big can of tomato puree (and you will see, I didn’t have much!). It was simple, but bursting with flavor and there wasn’t a scrap of leftovers!


You will need:

3 tbs olive oil

1 tbs unsalted butter

1 lb streaky bacon  – cut into pieces (I use a scissors)

4 tbs tomato paste

1/2 cup white wine (or red is just as good if you do not have white on hand)

1 cup grated or finely chopped carrots

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 cup whole milk

1lb good quality big tubular pasta like Rigatoni or calamarata. A big shell type or fusilli would be great too.


1 – Put the oil in a big saute pan (big enough to hold the complete dish) and on a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

saute onions with garlic in butter and oil

saute onions with garlic in butter and oil

2 – Add the chopped bacon and turn heat up to high/medium. Cook until bacon starts to get crispy (could take up to 15 minutes), stirring frequently.

*Put water on for pasta and when it boils, cook according to instructions. When you drain the water, reserve about 1 cup in case you need it for later in the finished dish, and do not rinse the pasta under cold water. You will be trying to time the pasta to be cooked at the same time as your sauce*

add the bacon and cook until crispy

add the bacon and cook until crispy

3 – Add the butter, carrots and tomato paste and cook for about 7 minutes. Add the wine and cook until half of the wine evaporates.

add tomato paste and carrots

add tomato paste and carrots

4 – Add the tomato puree and stir. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover with lid and cook for about a 1/2 hour.

add tomato puree

add tomato puree

5 – Add the milk and continue to cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

add milk

add milk

6 – Taste sauce and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and a little cayenne pepper flakes if you would like. Add the cooked pasta and stir gently. Add some hot pasta water if you desire a “looser” sauce.

serve with parmiagiano reggiano

serve with Parmigiano Reggiano

I served this with a good grating of Parmigiano Reggiano but you can eat it alone or with whatever you like!

Really Great Smokey Baby-Back Ribs (serves 6-8)

This past weekend was a hectic one to say the least and I had to be smart about what to cook. The best kinds of dishes to cook when you have guests and are on the go are ones that demand little time to prepare, slow cooking and are hearty enough to keep everyone happy for hours.

This dish most certainly fit all the criteria and was more delicious than I could have imagined.

This Weekend: Really Great Smokey Baby-Back Ribs

This Weekend: Really Great Smokey Baby-Back Ribs

I implore you to add this to your list of ways to cook my favorite kind of pig: Baby-Back ribs!


You will need:

4 tbs olive oil

2 racks baby-back ribs, cut into 2 to 3 rib pieces, seasoned lightly with sea-salt and black pepper.

1 large (not huge) Vidalia onion

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup roughly chopped flat-leafed parsley leaves

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (click here if you don’t know what this is)

1 tbs adobo sauce (use 2 tbs if you want more smokey heat)

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used San Marzano tomatoes)

1 tsp sea-salt (if using a fine-grained salt, start of with a 1/2 tsp)

Freshly ground black pepper

4 cups chicken broth OR 1 good quality bouillon cube (Rapunzel) and 4 cups of water)

Equipment: you will need a very large casserole with lid for this dish.

* I served this with basmati rice but you can serve with a pasta, like spaghetti*


Preheat oven 400*

1 – Sear the prepared ribs (see ingredients list instructions) in batches on high heat in large saute pan until browned on both sides. You will need to add more oil as you go. Transfer to a big casserole (with lid) that can be put into the oven.

sear ribs

sear ribs

2 – turn heat down to medium and add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes before adding the chopped chipotle peppers, adobo sauce and parsley.

saute onions, add seasonings

saute onions, add seasonings

3 – Add the tomato puree, broth (or water and bouillon cube) and salt and bring mixture to a boil.

add liquids

Add liquids

4 – Pour this mixture into the casserole over the ribs and place in the oven for 1  1/4 hours. Remove from oven and check meat by piercing with a sharp knife. If it is very tender you can remove it from the oven. Let it sit covered for about 10 minutes before serving. Taste the sauce for additional seasoning. Also, if the sauce is very thick you can add a little more water to thin it out to your liking.

assemble dish and cook

Assemble dish and cook

Serve each person 2 or 3 rib sections with whatever you like, (suggestions below). You can also have some cayenne pepper flakes on the table for those of you who like more heat. A sprinkle of some flat-leafed parsley would not go astray either!

Serve alone or with rice, pasta or bread

Serve alone or with rice, pasta or bread

The meat can also be removed from the ribs and returned to the sauce which makes it easier to eat, especially if you serve it with a long pasta like spaghetti or tagliatelle.