Pasta with Lamb Ragú and Ricotta from my new fave Say Cheese Mag

I love cheese! I can live on Quesadillas every day!  (But have no idea how to spell it!) The second best thing about wine tasting is the complementary cheese!  I want a cheese monger (Is that even right?  I know there’s such a thing as a fish monger…)here in Santa Clarita.  Right now my fave is Julie Mino making me a Panini at Valencia Wine Company.  No time for the pesky ham, she fills my toasty sandwich with Brie first, then whatever’s handy second.  Do you cheese it up?  And, where?

Makes 4 servings
Richly endowed with Southern Italian influences, this sauce is rustic, aromatic and satisfying. It also can be made with beef or pork; if that’s your choice, use fresh sage or basil in place of the mint.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 each: medium onion, celery stalk, large carrot, finely diced
  • 2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 can (14 to 15 oz.) Italian cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup whole milk or heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh mint
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese, preferably sheep’s milk ricotta
  • 1 pound garganalli or penne pasta, cooked according to package
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion, celery and carrot; cook until they begin to caramelize at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Toss in pancetta and allow to brown for several minutes. Add lamb and garlic; increase to medium-high heat and cook until meat is browned. Add wine and simmer until most of it has cooked away, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes with their liquid, breaking them up in the pan. Heat to simmer. Cook uncovered, until sauce begins to thicken, 15 minutes. Reserve 4 tablespoons of the milk or cream; add the rest to the sauce. Continue to cook until sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes longer. Add salt, pepper and mint and remove from heat.
  3. Stir together ricotta and reserved milk or cream until smooth.
  4. Divide pasta among four bowls; top with sauce. Top each with a large spoonful of the cheese mixture and drizzle with olive oil.