Fresh pasta sauce at it’s easiest

Due to an email snafu I found out on Monday that my friends Lindsay and Laura were going to be over at my house for dinner on Tuesday…as in the next day.   It’s recipes like this that I’m glad to have in my arsenal when I need to make a good impressive meal fast.  Thanks to our garden and a well stocked pantry we managed to have all the ingredients for this dish on hand.  Even if you didn’t, they are easily found…and it all goes together stupid quick.  This pasta reminds me of the many fresh sauces we had in Italy…each time I make it it takes me back.

Rigatoni with Meat and Celery Sauce (Rigatoni Strasciati)
Recipe taken from “Trattoria” by Patricia Wells
Yields 4-6 servings

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Sea salt
8 oz ground beef or a mix of beef, pork, and/or veal or prosciutto or pancetta
One 28-oz can crushed tomatoes in puree
Several sprigs of fresh parsley, bay leaves and celery leaves, tied in a bundle with cotton twine
1 pound dried Italian rigatoni, penne or large shell pasta
Freshly grated Italian parigiano-reggiano cheese for the table.

  1. In an unheated skillet large enough to hold the pasta later on, combine the oil, onion, celery, parsley, and a pinch of salt, stirring to coat with the oil.  Cook over moderate heat until mixture is soft and fragrant (4-5 mins).  Add the meat, and toss to blend.  Reduce the heat to low and cook, making sure to break the meat up into small bits with a spatula, until the meat changes color (about 5 mins).  Add crushed tomatoes.  Stir to blend.  Add the herb bundle and cook, uncovered, until the sauce begins to thicken (about 20 mins).  Taste for seasoning.  Remove and discard herb bundle
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain thoroughly
  3. Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the sauce and toss to blend.  Cover and let rest 1-2 mins, off heat to allow the pasta to thoroughly absorb the sauce.  Transfer to warmed plates or bowls.

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