Cavatelli Pasta in a Braised Lamb Ragù with Baby Spinach, Castelvetrano Olives and Fontina Cheese
INGREDIENTS WE NEED:
For the Ragù
- 1 pound / 450 grams lamb meat (shoulder or leg), small diced (veal or pork optional)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small piece onion, white, peeled, finely diced
- 1 small piece carrot, peeled, small diced
- ½ piece fennel, small diced
- 4 pieces garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
- 2 medium pieces tomatoes, diced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 pieces bay leaf, fresh / or dry
- 2 sprigs thyme, fresh / or pinch of dried
- 1 sprig rosemary, fresh / or pinch of dried
- 2 cups / 500 ml chicken stock, unsalted / homemade or store bought
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml red wine
- pinch coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
- pinch fresh black pepper
- pinch red pepper flakes
For the Pasta
- ½ pound / 225 grams cavatelli pasta / or any other short pasta
- 1 handful castelvetrano olives, pitted, cut in slivers / or any other green olives
- 2 handful fresh baby spinach, leaves
- 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- pinch coarse kosher salt
- pinch fresh black pepper
For the Garnish
- 4-6 tablespoons fontina cheese, freshly grated
- 2 tablespoons parsley, fresh chopped
LET'S COOK IT:
Step 1 - Cook the Lamb Ragù
- In a large medium pot or Dutch casserole set over medium heat, add the 3 tablespoon olive oil.
- When the oil is hot, add the diced lamb meat and brown meat evenly on all sides, about 8-10 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper from the mil.
- Once the meat is nice and browned, remove meat from pot and set aside.
- Add little more olive oil and then add the onions, carrot, fennel, garlic and a pinch of kosher salt and allow to cook until softened while stirring, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add back the browned lamb meat and stir well.
- Add the tomato paste and the red pepper flakes and cook by keep stirring for about 2-4 minutes.
- Add the red wine, thyme, bay leaf, rosemary and stir. Scrape the bottom of the pot to lift up any bits.
- Add the diced tomatoes and 1 cup / 250 ml chicken stock, bring to a simmer and then drop the heat to low.
- Cover the pot with a lid and let it cook at a gentle simmer for 2-3 hours.
- Checking and stirring it frequently, adding more chicken stock if needed.
- Once finished season with fresh black pepper and kosher salt. Remove from stove and keep warm for service.
- Before service, remove the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary sprigs and discard.
Step 2 - Cook the Pasta
- Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente (cook as per cooking instructions displayed on the Pasta package).
- Drain the pasta, reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking water.
Step 3 - Let’s finish and serve the dish
- Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot.
- Add the spinach to the skillet and toss quickly with oil to coat.
- When spinach is just wilted, about 2 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
- Add the pasta to the skillet along with the reserved pasta cooking water, green olives and give it a good toss, then add a little lamb ragù, stirring, until the pasta is evenly coated, about 1 minute.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, (for shine and flavor).
- Season with kosher salt and fresh black pepper.
- Remove from the stove.
- Divide the pasta in serving bowls, top with a large ladle of lamb ragù, top with lots of freshly grated fontina cheese and some fresh chopped parsley.
- Enjoy with a nice Crusty Country Bread on the side. Bon Appetit!
Happy “Stay Home” Cooking! with Chef Anton “Tony” Egger