RECIPE

Lamb and Eggplant Ragu

We had the Lamb & Eggplant Ragu that I had put together several days earlier.

Lamb & Eggplant Ragu

I had made the ragu portion a couple of days before and refrigerated it. Then I brought it to room temperature and gently reheated it over medium heat while I cooked off the pasta and made a gremolata to go on top. You can easily make this with beef if you’re not a fan of lamb.

Ingredients

RAGU

  • 2 small or 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Salt
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 pound ground lamb or beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small red Fresno chile, finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 (28- or 32-ounce) cans San Marzano tomatoes (look for DOP on the label)
  • 1 pound rigatoni, pappardelle, or spinach tagliatelle
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Grated pecorino cheese or sheep’s milk ricotta, for serving
  • Gremolata (chopped mixed mint, parsley, and lemon zest)

Preparation

Make the ragu: Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and set on towels to drain.

In a large skillet, heat the EVOO (1 or 2 turns of the pan, a light coating) over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook, breaking it up into crumbles as it browns. Add the eggplant, onion, chile, garlic, rosemary, and lemon zest. Let that cook until the onion and eggplant are tender. Add the mint, parsley, and tomato paste, and stir that around until the tomato paste is fragrant. Add the stock and tomatoes (crush them a bit with a potato masher) and let the sauce simmer gently at a low bubble for 30 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook the pasta al dente. Before draining, ladle out about a cup of the starchy pasta cooking water and add it to the sauce.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot over low heat. Add half of the sauce and the butter to the pasta, tossing with tongs 1 or 2 minutes for the flavors to absorb. Remove it from the heat and add in some pecorino.

Serve it in bowls with more of the ragu on top, and garnish with more pecorino and some gremolata.

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