Italians are known for their endless baked pasta ideas. It seems like everyone has one or more. This one is a little different as the sauce is made with ground lamb instead of pork, sausage, or meatballs. What’s the difference? Let’s look closely at this recipe for BAKED RIGATONI WITH LAMB SAUCE to find out.
Begin with the lamb: Italians eat a lot of lamb especially in the spring. It is simply a tradition. Could you just as easily use ground beef in this recipe? Well…yes you could do that, but the flavor would be very different. That is what is so unique and amazing about cooking with lamb. Where you start is not necessarily where you end up. Beef cannot possibly achieve the level of flavor that you will get from the ground lamb. Before simmering the sauce has a completely different flavor. When you finish – it is a different story entirely.
The preparation: This is a simple dish – and easy to put together. It is built in layers and comes together in about 40 minutes. It is one of the more flavorful baked pasta dishes mostly because of the use of lamb instead of beef or even sausage. As almost always, I recommend using fresh herbs.
You, your family, and guests will just love it.
BAKED RIGATONI WITH LAMB SAUCE
Prep and Cook: About 40 minutes
1 lb. Rigatoni, Mezza Rigatoni ( as you see in the photos), Ziti, or Penne – cooked according to package directions
4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Onion Chopped
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – chopped finely
1 C. chopped baby carrots – chop into small bits
2 Stalks Celery – chop into small bits
2 Tbsp. Fresh Sage – chopped
2 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary – chopped
1 lb. ground lamb
1/2 C. Dry White Wine
1 14 oz. Canned Tomatoes – crushed or blended slightly
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
1/2 C. Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
10 oz. Fresh Mozzarella Cheese – cubed
Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish
Cook the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and herbs in the olive oil for about 5 minutes at med. high heat.
Add the ground lamb to the pan and brown – about another 5 minutes.
Add the wine to the pan and cook another minute.
Pour in the tomatoes and add the salt and pepper.
Then cook about 15 minutes more.
When finished remove from the heat and let sit a minute to cool. Then add the cream and stir in until blended.
Add the sauce to the pasta and pour into a 15 x 9 inch rectangular baking dish.
Sprinkle on the Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix in.
Distribute the mozzarella cubes around the pan and gently mix in.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes until the mozzarella is melted and “oozy”.
Garnish with Fresh Chopped Italian Parsley and serve!
*For an interesting addition – try adding a small scoop of warm ricotta cheese, flavored with a little grated Parmigiano, black pepper, and chopped fresh parsley an on each serving.
I like a lovely Barbera D’Alba with this BAKED RIGATONI WITH LAMB SAUCE.
PARLA COME MANGI!
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