Rigatoni with Rapid Ragu

Serves 6
This is a great weeknight dinner if you're craving a meat sauce but haven't the time for an authentic slow-cooked version. The secret flavor weapon is mortadella, a slow smoked sausage which originated in Bologna, Italy, made from pork, beef, fat and seasonings. It is available in the deli section of most markets. My husband quite unexpectedly developed this recipe with the leftover mortadella he uses in his signature Polpette (page 101), another recipe beloved by everyone who tastes it.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound mortadella, chopped fine
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce, can use canned if you don’t have homemade
  • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Pour the olive oil and garlic in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan over medium heat and cook until the garlic sizzles and is slightly golden, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the pork and mortadella and cook, while stirring, until the pinkness is eliminated, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon of water. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the parsley.
  3. Meanwhile, with 15 minutes left for the sauce to cook, generously salt the boiling water. Add the rigatoni and cook until tender but still firm. Set the timer for 2 minutes less than the package instructions specify and taste for doneness. Toss the rigatoni with the sauce and serve topped with Parmesan cheese and pepper.
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