Couple of months ago, I was having just a crap day and really needed some comfort and something to feed my soul. Pasta is a great comfort food and it doesn’t take much time or energy to make a huge serving. Within 30 or so minutes Dean and I were enjoying this cheesy, gooey, yummy pasta. It just made me feel all warm inside.
I did made a few changes to the recipe. I used rigatoni because that is what I had in the pantry, an 1/8 pound of pancetta and 1 pound of ground sirloin to lighten the meat content a little, low fat ricotta cheese to lighten the fat content, and fresh mozzarella because I don’t really care for smoked mozzarella.
1 pound whole-wheat gemelli or cassarecci
5 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 bay leaf
Ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, grated
4 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped
1 cup beef stock
1 (28-ounce) can Italian tomatoes
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 ball smoked mozzarella, thinly sliced
Heat a pot of water for pasta, season with salt and cook pasta to al dente.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F or broiler.
While pasta water comes to a boil, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a high sided skillet over medium-high to high heat. When the oil smokes, add the pancetta, sirloin and bay leaf and caramelize the meat, 5 to 6 minutes, season with salt, pepper and allspice. Add grated vegetables and garlic, rosemary. Cook 7 to 8 minutes, stir in stock. Add tomatoes and break up with a spoon. Drain pasta and add to sauce then stir in ricotta. Top pasta with a layer of mozzarella and place in oven. Cook 5 minutes to melt and bubble mozzarella.