Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.
Lucas “made up” his favorite pasta, a mashup of the Italian classics aglio e olio and cacio e pepe that adds olive oil, butter, and Parmigiano to penne or spaghetti. But when I cook this simple pork ragù for our 7-year-old New Orleanian grandson, he makes a point to tell me that it’s really good but only his second favorite.
The ragù is fairly easy to make and doesn’t take too long—important when 7-year-olds are hungry. It’s also delicious enough for their parents. The recipe below makes enough for a pound of pasta, but if you like more sauce than pasta, just use an entire pound of ground pork and a bigger, 28-ounce can of tomatoes.
Lucas’ Second-Favorite Pasta (Spaghetti With Pork Ragù)
1/2 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup dry red wine, optional
14.5-ounce can ground or crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher-style sea salt, plus more to taste
1 pound spaghetti (or your favorite pasta shape)
Using a pan large enough to hold both the sauce and cooked pasta, cook the pork in the olive oil over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When it’s no longer pink, add the onion and continue cooking until it’s soft, about 10-15 minutes.
Add the garlic and oregano, cook for a minute or two, then add the wine and let it boil for a minute before stirring in the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes.
While the ragù simmers, bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti. Use the time on the package as a guide, but taste the pasta frequently toward the end until it gets to your preferred level of al dente (which doesn’t necessarily mean firm; you can eat it any way you like but I think it’s best without a light, uncooked center in the noodle).
When the spaghetti is ready, use tongs or a pasta fork to lift it out of the cooking water and into the pot of sauce. If you made a double batch, take some of it out before adding the pasta. You can serve it separately for those who like their spaghetti extra saucy. Or drain the spaghetti in a colander after dipping out a quarter cup or so of the pasta water to add back to the sauce.
Let the spaghetti cook in the ragù for a minute or two, then serve hot with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.