Okay, so this recipe was inspired by one I tried from Giada De Laurentiis. Truth be told, I was reticent to try it because I am not a huge fan of lamb (or so I had thought), and the idea of using mint in a tomato sauce freaked me out just a little bit. But then I got thinking “well, basil is in the mint family, so it can’t be THAT much of a departure, right??”. Right. Let me tell you…this dish is one of my all time favorites and I love to make it on a Sunday and then have it on a weeknight when I don’t have time to cook something. My kids love this dish as well. They had no idea it was lamb and the mint did not turn them off either. The ground lamb is silky and tender in the sauce and the freshness of the mint cuts through the richness of the sauce and adds a light herbal flavor. Besides, lamb and mint go together, don’t they?? I urge you to try this recipe, just once. Be brave. I have confidence that this will become one of your favorite dishes as well.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 lb. ground lamb
1 cup dry red wine, such as chianti or cabernet
1 32 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup fresh mint, minced
1 lb. rigatoni pasta
grated parmesan cheese for garnish
In a large sautee pan over medium heat, heat oil and cook the shallots and garlic for a couple of minutes until tender and fragrant.
Raise the heat to medium-high and add the ground lamb, season with salt and pepper, and cook until browned, breaking the meat up into small pieces.
Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, cover, and simmer for at least 3o minutes. I like to let my sauce simmer for as long as I can muster the patience for. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors meld and the better the overall flavor.
Add the mint and stir to combine.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the rigatoni according to the box directions.
Toss pasta with sauce and garnish with more mint and some freshly grated parmesan cheese.