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Not-sagna Pasta Toss

Not-sagna Pasta Toss


  • 1 pound curly, short-cut pasta, such as Barilla brand capanelle, fusilli or cavatappi

  • Coarse salt

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 1 pound ground sirloin

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (eyeball it in your palm)

  • Black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice (eyeball it in your palm)

  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (several drops)

  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (a couple of glugs)

  • 1/2 cup beef stock

  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)

  • 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, (a couple of handfuls), plus some to pass at the table

  • 1 cup fresh basil (about 20 leaves)


Heat a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Heads up: you will need a ladle of the starchy cooking water before draining to help make the sauce.

Heat a deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO, two turns of the pan. Add the meat and break it up into small bits as it caramelizes. Once the meat has good color to it, 4-5 minutes, add the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes and season with the salt, pepper, allspice and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes, deglaze the meat and onion with the red wine, cook off a minute, then combine about 1/2 cup of stock into the meat. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Place the ricotta cheese in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Add a ladleful of boiling, starchy pasta water to the ricotta and stir to combine. Add a couple of handfuls of grated Parmigiano Reggiano to the ricotta and mix it in.

Drain the pasta. Toss the hot pasta with the cheeses. Add half of the thick meat sauce to the pasta bowl and combine. Tear or shred the basil and add to the meat and pasta and toss again. Adjust the salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve bowlfuls of Not-sagna with extra sauce on top and more grated Parmigiano Reggiano to pass at the table.