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Crimini Ragu with Spinach Crostini and Chicken Ragu with Whole Wheat Pasta

Crimini Ragu with Spinach Crostini and Chicken Ragu with Whole Wheat Pasta


  • 1 pound whole wheat or whole-grain rigatoni or other short cut pasta

  • 1 loaf crusty bread, bakery sliced (baguette or ciabatta)

  • 1 pound crimini mushrooms, wiped clean

  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided

  • 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and grated or finely chopped, divided

  • 1/4 pound pancetta (a couple thick slices), finely diced

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, chopped into small bite-size pieces

  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped

  • 1 carrot, peeled

  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine (a couple glugs)

  • 1 can tomatoes (28 ounces), such as San Marzano

  • A couple of handfuls fresh baby spinach

  • A few grates nutmeg or a pinch of ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar

  • A splash of heavy cream

  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

  • A handful of basil leaves (10-20 leaves), torn


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook to al dente. Drain and keep warm.

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Scatter the sliced bread on a baking sheet. Toast until crisp, but not too dry, 6-8 minutes.

Quarter the mushrooms. Heat 3 tablespoons EVOO, three turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Once the mushrooms have started to brown, add the 3-4 cloves of the garlic.

While the mushrooms cook, begin the chicken ragu. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons EVOO, two turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Brown the pancetta for 3-4 minutes, then add the chicken and brown evenly, 5-6 minutes. Add the onion to the chicken. Grate the carrot and stir in with the rosemary, bay leaf and the remaining garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are soft.

Add the Marsala to the chicken and vegetables. Stir and reduce a minute, then add the tomatoes and crush with a wooden spoon. Simmer for a few minutes to thicken and combine the flavors.

When the mushrooms are tender, season with salt and pepper. Chop the spinach coarsely, then stir in to wilt. Add in a few grates of nutmeg, then stir in the vinegar and a splash of heavy cream. Transfer the mushrooms to a small bowl and serve with toasted bread for topping.

Toss the pasta with the chicken ragu and cheese. Garnish with some torn basil and serve immediately.