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Rachael Ray's Lamb & Pine Nut Ragu with Egg Pasta
Allspice and cumin are not common in Italian recipes, but with lamb and eggplant (both essential ingredients in Palestinian, Israeli, Syrian, and Turkish cooking), these flavors are—at least to *this* Italian—becoming essential.
½ cup pine nuts
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground lamb
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
1 strip of orange zest (once around an orange with a vegetable peeler)
1 large shallot, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 tsp. (about 1/3 palmful) fennel seeds
1 tsp. (about 1/3 palmful) crushed red pepper
½ tsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 can (about 15 oz.) crushed or chopped Italian tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup sweet (red) vermouth or fruity red wine
1 lb. egg tagliatelle or other long egg pasta (such as fettuccine or pappardelle)
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano
About 2 tbsp. each finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and mint
1 cup sheep’s-milk ricotta or cow’s-milk ricotta
Finely grated Pecorino Romano (if using sheep’s-milk ricotta) or Parmigiano-Reggiano (if using cow’s-milk ricotta)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
In a small skillet over medium heat, or in a toaster oven, toast the pine nuts, stirring often, until golden and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Coarsely chop.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil, two turns of the pan, over medium-high. Add the lamb. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat with a spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf, orange zest, shallot, garlic, and spices. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot softens, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, stock, and vermouth. Reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer while you cook the pasta.
Salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook until 1 minute shy of the package directions. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Discard the bay leaf and orange zest from the sauce. Add the pasta, 1 cup Pecorino Romano, and the herbs. Toss until evenly incorporated; add pasta cooking water if the pasta is too dry.
Serve the pasta in shallow bowls. Top with the pine nuts, ricotta, and more grated cheese to mix into the pasta as it’s eaten.