I don’t know anyone who hasn’t ordered this at some random hotel or generic Italian eatery – it’s such a “safety” dish, since more often than not, it’s always good! It has all the favorite basics of a heavy cream and tomato sauce, juicy beef and pasta – there’s little not to love here. While watching Barefoot Contessa the other day, an episode of how to make this came on and I knew I had found a new weeknight dinner dish to include in my routine of favorite after-work dishes.
1 box of pasta shells (I use shells, but angel hair, or any other kind of pasta can be used)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 package of ground beef (I use New Zealand, 75%)
4 teaspoons of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 1/4 cup of red cooking wine (I use Fre, which can be found at Lulu Hypermarket or Geant)
2 cans of 14 oz. whole tomatoes, crushed
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
1 tablespoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
This recipe is quite fast – First, begin by frying the olive oil with the minced beef. I add onions for extra flavor while it’s frying. Once browned and just barely pink, add the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and stir for an extra minute. Pour 1 cup of the red wine and scrape off any of the bits and juices from the meat so everything is incorporated. Then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Bring the pot to a low boil, and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes. While the sauce is simmering, begin to boil the pasta with a tablespoon of salt and a dash of olive-oil. After the 10 minutes is complete on the sauce, add the nutmeg, basil, cream and the additional 1/4 cup of the red wine. Stir occasionally, and allow to thicken for another 8-10 minutes. Finish up the pasta, drain, and then – once the sauce is finished – mix the shells and sauce together in a large bowl. Add the parmesan and allow to melt together. Garnish with extra parmesan on top, if desired.
It’s such a simple recipe and, actually, quite different than a standard spaghetti sauce combination. I served it with fresh garlic bread and an avocado salad – with guests, I would also make parmesan crisps to serve on the side (although bead is a must, so as to dip into the sauce). Dishes like this, which are staple house-hold favorites I love to include every-other-week or so – they’re easy, heartfelt and always so delicious to come home to after a long day.
Recipe, courtesy of Ina Garten