Spicy Lamb Ragu

More and more these days, meat is a very rare component of my diet. I am eating more legumes, more tofu, and plenty of nutrient rich vegetables. I don’t miss meat at all – but sometimes, a hearty bowl of lamb ragu sounds too delicious to pass up.

bowl of ragu

It has been COLD in Virginia for the past week. We’re talking highs in the 20s, lows in the teens. I grew up in Texas, y’all… I am not a fan of such cold! At least we have has some snow flurries, because – let’s be serious – cold without snow is just plain obnoxious.

The more I eat seasonally, the more “in tune” I feel with what my body wants and needs. In the summer, I crave juicy fruits and fresh, crisp veggies. In the fall, I begin to turn to roasted root vegetables. And during these cold stretches of winter, sometimes there is nothing better than comforting foods like pasta with meat sauce.

2 bowls

This dish was made super special thanks to two “foodie finds” at Whole Foods – local ground lamb and fresh pasta. I chose black pepper pappardelle, and it was perfect.

Spicy Lamb Ragu

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s Wine and Food

Serves 4


  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  •  2 small fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound fresh pappardelle (or dried if you can’t find fresh)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

bowl from above


In a large frying pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add the lamb and saute, stirring to break up any clumps, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lamb to a towel-lined plate.

Pour off all but 1 Tablespoon of the fat from the pan, and return the pan to medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return the lamb to the pan and add the broth, 1/2 cup water, white wine vinegar, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and rosemary. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, uncovered, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 25 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for 1 minute longer. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat.

While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce, and toss and stir to combine. Add the 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and toss again. Divide pasta into shallow bowls, top with more Parmesan cheese, and serve immediately.

lamb ragu

Isn’t pappardelle a beautiful pasta? I love the way the thick noodles fold in the bowl, and they way they stand up to a meat sauce. 

This dish was very well received by my meat-loving husband. We enjoyed the leftovers again later in the week, served a top a base of fresh spinach (you gotta get your greens in, after all!).

2 bowls above

The only thing missing was a glass of wine… The cookbook suggests an Argentine Sangiovese or an Italian Barbera, which have enough acidity to stand up to the tomato sauce. We have served this dish with wine in the past, at a dinner party with friends, and it was a lovely pairing.

What type of foods do you turn to in the winter?



One thought on “Spicy Lamb Ragu

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