Recipe Image

Whole-Wheat Fusilli with Beef Ragu

  • 30 m
  • 1 h
Mary Ellen Evans
“This chunky, full-bodied sauce is a good match for hearty whole-wheat pasta. We've augmented a little lean ground beef with mushrooms to get a rich, meaty sauce that has a minimum of saturated fat.”


    • 8 ounces 90%-lean ground beef
    • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 medium carrots, chopped
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 stalk celery, chopped
    • 6 ounces cremini, or baby bella mushrooms, wiped clean and coarsely chopped (2 cups)
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, (not drained)
    • ½ cup dry red wine
    • 1-2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
    • Large pinch of crushed red pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
    • 12 ounces whole-wheat fusilli, or rotini
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, (optional)
    • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, (optional)


  • 1 Cook beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a strainer or colander and drain off fat.
  • 2 Heat oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • 3 Add tomatoes and mash with a potato masher. Add wine, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, salt and the meat; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened and the flavors have developed, about 30 minutes.
  • 4 Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, 9 to 11 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and toss with the sauce. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Pass Parmesan separately, if using.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through step 3. Cover and refrigerate the sauce for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • If you're only serving 2 or 3 people, toss half the sauce with 6 ounces cooked pasta; freeze the remaining sauce. If you're serving more than 6 or are just feeling industrious, you can easily double the sauce recipe
  • Pasta cooked al dente has a lower glycemic index than overcooked pasta, and whole-wheat choices are lower than white.
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