ragu with penne

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Ragu for a Cold Day

From the book The School of Essential Ingredients by

This recipe doesn’t actually appear in The School of Essential Ingredients, but is, according to the publisher, one of the author’s favorites.


When my husband and I moved our family to Italy in 1997, we came from the world of Seattle software start-ups. Our children were 7 and 10 — a typical dinner was macaroni and cheese from a box, and often without my husband at home. We spent two years in Italy, where lunch could take five hours, where meals for six expanded effortlessly into dinners for 20, and food was a celebration, second only in importance to the people at the table.

When we returned home, our family scattered once again on the winds of soccer and social lives. Our then-13-year-old daughter would often call us at 5 p.m. to alert us that she wasn’t coming home for dinner. I learned to say, with just a touch of sadness in my voice, “Oh, that’s too bad. I cooked.”

“What did you cook?” she would ask. “Can I bring a friend?”

And so we made it through high school. The following recipe is one of my favorites. If love has a smell, it would be the aroma of this sauce as you walk in the front door at the end of a cold day.


Tbsp. butter
Tbsp. olive oil
¾ cup celery, chopped
¾ cup carrots, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground Italian sausage
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 cup wine
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14½ oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 bay leaves
½ tsp. orange zest, optional
~ Farfalle pasta
~ Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat butter with olive oil. Add celery, carrots, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add sausage and beef; mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper, then wine.
  3. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until meat is browned and most of the liquid has boiled off.
  4. Add tomatoes and bay leaf. Taste. If you want a brighter, slightly lighter feel, add orange zest. Cook on low heat for 45 minutes.
  5. Cook farfalle, following directions on package. Drain. Spoon sauce over pasta. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

This content is from the book The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister.

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