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Rigatoni with a Roasted Veal Sauce

A few months back, I received an email from a friend of mine asking if I would be willing to chat about my blogging experiences with a friend of hers.  This friend already had a food blog and was thinking about making some changes.  Of course, I said I would be happy to do it.  Imagine my surprise when that friend of a friend turned out to be Lael Hazan, wife of celebrated cookbook author Giuliano Hazan [1] and daughter-in-law of the legendary Marcella Hazan [2]!   We made a date to meet for coffee and became fast friends.  Lael is a lovely  person and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her. She not only works beside her husband in their cooking school [3] near Verona Italy, but she also teaches her own cooking classes, writes for several publications, blogs [4], hosts her own radio show [5] and somehow manages to raise two adorable daughters as well.  Whew!  I get exhausted just thinking about it!

After Lael and I met, I went out and picked up a copy of Giuliano’s new book, Thirty Minute Pasta [6].  It’s a carbohydrate lovers dream, filled with one hundred quick and easy pasta recipes, ranging from soups and vegetarian dishes to classic meat and seafood preparations.  The recipes are straightforward and concise, leaving little room for error, which means anyone can be successful with them.  And, the photos are totally droolworthy!

One of my favorite recipes so far is for this Rigatoni with a Roasted Veal Sauce.  It’s a very simple dish that is designed to emulate the flavors of a classic pan-roasted veal rolled with pancetta and sage.  Instead of a veal roast that requires a long cooking time, this recipe calls for ground veal which can be cooked in minutes.  Brilliant!

The first thing you do is sauté some garlic, diced pancetta and fresh sage in butter. (Oh yes, I said butter!  You can put that EVOO away!)   Even though they’re not in the original recipe, I added some diced onions as well.  I just really like onions in my pasta sauce.

Next, add the ground veal and cook it until there’s no more pink left.

I also added some sliced mushrooms to the sauce because I had some in the fridge that were about to pass their prime.  I didn’t want to be responsible for a mushroomicide!

Then, add some juicy, ripe, diced tomatoes and simmer.  I used canned San Marzano tomatoes this time because the fresh tomatoes around here kind of suck right now.

Look at that gorgeous sauce! Don’t you want to just dive right into it?  If you don’t, you should.  It was amazing!  (By the way, have I mentioned how much I love that Scanpan [7] skillet?  It’s the only pan I’ve ever found that gives me an actual crust on fish or meat on my crappy electric stove!)

Ah!  Pasta perfection!

And, in case you were wondering, I am not channeling Pioneer Woman [8] with all of these process pictures.   I have the darkest kitchen in the world, and could never get bright, well-focused shots with my old point and shoot (kitchen) camera.   I rarely ever bring my DSLR into the kitchen because I’m always worried about splattering food on it and ruining it.  So, I recently bought a new point and shoot camera [9] that has an awesome low light setting and I’m kind of going a little crazy with it.  Don’t worry.  I’m sure the novelty will wear off soon.

In the meantime, get yourself a copy of Thirty Minute Pasta so that you too can make fabulous meals like this!   Buy copies for your family and friends too.   The Holidays are coming and this book would make a great gift!

Rigatoni with a Roast Veal Sauce
adapted from Thirty Minute Pasta

I’ve given you the original recipe for this dish without my modifications.  If you’d like to also add diced onions and sliced mushrooms, do so in Step 3.  I added the onions first and sautéed them for about 4 minutes before I added the pancetta, sage and mushrooms.  As I noted above, I also used 1 pound of canned San Marzano tomatoes in this dish.  I was able to find the cans that are already diced.  If you can’t, use an equivalent amount of peeled whole tomatoes and chop them up yourself.  Just make sure to strain out the seeds before you add them to the sauce.


2 medium whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 ounce pancetta, diced in a 1/8-inch dice
1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
10-12 fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
3/4 pound ground veal
Salt to taste
1 pound rigatoni pasta


1.  Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water.  Bring to a boil.

2.  Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  When butter begins to melt, add garlic cloves.  Sauté until lightly browned and remove.

3.  Add the pancetta and sage to the skillet and sauté briefly until pancetta loses its raw color, about 2 minutes.  Add the ground veal and salt and cook, stirring often, until veal begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes.

4.  Add the tomatoes and season with more salt, if needed.  Continue cooking over medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10-12 minutes.

5.  While the sauce is simmering, cook the rigatoni according to the package directions.  Drain well and toss with the sauce.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4.