Lamb Ragu with Mint

Lamb Ragu with Mint
We love Giada De Laurentiis’ recipes for Italian cooking, and this lamb ragu is a winner. It’s a great way to branch out from traditional meat sauce, and it’s even better the second day! English Peas would be a great addition and we’ve included her recipe for homemade sauce as well.

• 1 pound rigatoni pasta
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 shallots, chopped
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup red wine
• 4 cups marinara sauce, store-bought or home made
• 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
• 1/2 cup ricotta cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta. Meanwhile, in a large skillet warm the olive oil over high heat. Add the shallots and the garlic and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the ground lamb, salt, and pepper. Cook until the lamb has browned and the juices have evaporated. Add the wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon. Simmer until the wine has reduced by half. Add the marinara sauce and simmer over low heat until the flavors have blended, about 10 minutes. Add the mint and ricotta and stir until mixed. Add the pasta and stir to coat. Serve immediately.

Giada’s Homemade Marinara Sauce:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil , 2 small onions, finely chopped , 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped , 2 stalks celery, finely chopped , 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped , 1/2 teaspoon sea salt , 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper , 2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes, 2 dried bay leaves
In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)

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