Penne In Country Ragu

I’m pleased as punch to report to you all that I hit it out of the park with this penne dish last night!

Maybe it was because steaming hot pasta sounded good to my girlies, who were frozen solid after playing outside for an hour or so. Maybe it was because my husband had eaten a light lunch and was extra hungry. Or, maybe it was because No Thank You Boy has been minding his p’s and q’s due to Santa’s impending visit.

Whatever the reason (and who really cares, a home run is a home run!) – there were practically no leftovers, and the leftovers I did have had to be hidden away in the garage refrigerator so that I had something to shoot for my little ol’ blog!

I’m breaking my ‘sale ad rule’ today, in that only the only ingredient on special this week is the pasta I used. But, I can justify sharing it with you (ask my friends, I can justify just about anything) because sale or not, this dish is incredibly inexpensive to make. The meat cost a grand total of around $4.00! You might even already have most of the other ingredients on hand in your fridge or pantry.

This rustic dish is the perfect accompaniment to subzero temperatures. Serve it up in heated pasta bowls for an extra special touch!

Stay warm out there!!

One quick note: I made this quite early in the day, so it had a chance for the flavors to blend in the fridge all afternoon. If you make it ahead of time, add a little extra chopped basil just before serving, just to bump up that yummy basil flavor. Fresh herbs can get tired after sitting around for a while. (Isn’t that a great tip? I learned it from Martha Stewart!)


Serves: 4-5


  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 Italian sausages, casings removed
  • ½ lb. ground veal
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 – 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (I like to use fire-roasted tomatoes here)
  • 1 c. chicken broth (plus additional if sauce becomes to thick)
  • ½ dry red one (be sure to use one that you’d like to drink; I used a sale Malbec)
  • ½ c. chopped fresh basil, plus additional for garnish
  • 16 oz. penne pasta

Freshly grated Romano cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, ground veal, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes; sauté until browned, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, about 7 minutes. Add carrots, celery, and onion, sauté until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Mix in tomatoes with their juices. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 cup chicken broth and wine, stirring to incorporate. Simmer uncovered until liquid is slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Add basil; cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. Simmer uncovered until ragu thickens to desired consistency, stirring often, about 10 minutes longer. Adjust with additional chicken broth if necessary. Season ragu lightly with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain, rinse if desired, and return to pot. Place pasta in shallow serving bowls (warmed in the oven if you want to be fancy) and top with ragu and Romano cheese. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs if desired.

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | December 12th, 2009