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Lamb Ragu

Ragu d'Agnello

Serves 8

This is the typical sauce for pasta dishes that make up the distinct cooking of the regions of Molise and Abruzzi. This sauce is perfect for fusillioni, the larger version of a twisted pasta more familiar to us as fusilli, which is readily available in your supermarket. The name fusilli comes for the knitting-needle-type implement used by hand long ago to form the dough into its twisted or corkscrew shape. It is ideal for trapping the sauce in its curves and grooves. If you want to give this sauce a lively kick, add a small diced hot red pepper.


3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary needles

1/4 cup Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 whole bay leaves

2 medium sweet red peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips, and diced

1 small hot red pepper, seeded and diced, or 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes or to taste (Optional)

1 pound ground lamb

2/3 cup dry white wine

6 large plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped, juice reserved; or 1 16-ounce can of plum tomatoes

Fine sea salt to taste

Grinding of black pepper

1 pound fusilli

Grated Pecorino cheese for sprinkling


Mince the garlic and rosemary together. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan and cook the garlic mixture along with the bay leaves until the garlic softens.

Stir in the peppers and hot pepper, if using, and cook for 2 minutes until the peppers soften. Stir in the lamb and brown it slowly, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks. Raise the heat to medium high, pour in the wine and stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon until most of the wine evaporates, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and their juice, and the salt and pepper. Cover the saucepan, lower the heat to simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, remove and discard the bay leaves.

Cook the fusilli according to the package directions. Drain the fusilli and add it to the saucepan. Stir to coat it well with the sauce. Transfer the mixture to a serving platter. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and serve.

This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA PRONTO by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2005.


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