Beef Ragù with Spaghetti or Spaghetti Squash

Ragu alla Napoleta

Ragu alla Napoletana

By Cat, Nov 2009 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: 1. Casseroles & One-Dish Meals (Menu); 2. Beef, Buffalo, Venison, Yak (Menu); 3. Tomato Sauce (Menu)

A ragù is a meaty tomato sauce, such as Bolognese Sauce, and commonly served with pasta. The meat can be ground, diced or sliced; the type of meat can be beef, chicken, pork, duck, goose, lamb, mutton, veal, wild game, or sausage made from any of these meats, but the most common in the US is beef. (1)

Sautéed vegetables as well as herbs and spices may be included in the sauce with the meat. This particular recipe includes onion, garlic and basil, in addition to the tomatoes in the sauce. (1)

Beef Ragù with Spaghetti or Spaghetti Squash

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking (1), originally by Liz Pearson, and serves 4 (Or adaptation to serve 2, with pasta is included below main list of ingredients).

The original uses spaghetti squash as an alternative to pasta, but this sauce would be equally delicious with sprouted-grain spaghetti. Add a nice green salad (such as insalata mista). with oil & balsamic dressing, and garlic bread and call it a delicious meal!

Ingredients & Equipment:

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

(Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

  • 1 small spaghetti squash (2.5 lb) OR 8 oz spaghetti
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, or to taste
  • 15 oz crushed tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef or buffalo
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • filtered water
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil (2 – 4 oz) or 4 tsp dried basil
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • Equipment:
  • stock pot or other pot large enough to hold the squash
  • 12-inch cast iron skillet
  • 4 serving plates

Ingredients to serve 2

  • ½ small spaghetti squash (1.25 lb) or 2 oz spaghetti (I use sprouted-grain)
  • ½ small yellow onion or 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, or to taste
  • 8 oz crushed tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ lb lean ground beef or buffalo
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • filtered water
  • 2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh basil, 1 – 2 oz (or 2 tsp dried basil)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese


  1. If using squash: Halve squash lengthwise and remove seeds. Arrange at bottom of a pot and fill with 1/2 inch water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook about 15 – 20 minutes, until tender enough to shred when raked with a fork. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool a bit.
  2. If using pasta: While sauce is simmering (see below), cook pasta in boiling, salted water per package instructions, until al dente. Drain and rinse; set aside to keep warm (I leave the pasta in my colander, set over cooking pan and covered with lid, in warm spot on my stove).
  3. Prepare ragu: Chop onion; peel and mince garlic. Crush tomatoes and keep separate.
  4. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground meat with garlic, onion and season with ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper (or ¼ tsp salt and ⅛ tsp pepper). Cook, breaking up the meat, until just cooked through, about 5 – 6 minutes. Drain and discard fat if desired.
  5. Add tomatoes, basil and ¼ cup water (or 2 Tbsp for 2-servings); stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning. (While sauce is simmering, cook the pasta, if using)


  1. If using squash, rake it with a fork to form strands. Arrange squash on plates and season to taste.
  2. If using pasta, arrange pasta on plates (you don’t need to season the pasta).
  3. Ladle ragu over each serving of squash/pasta, and garnish with freshly grated cheese.
  4. Serve with a salad of greens and your favorite dressing (I like balsamic or gorgonzola), and garlic bread or focaccia.


1/22/15: Made 2 servings using spaghetti squash, ½ lb ground beef, 1 oz fresh basil, and 8 oz chopped fresh tomato & its juices. The tomato was a bit too juicy so I added about 1 tsp tomato paste. Waited until 5 minutes before end of the ragù simmer to add the basil. Result: The sauce is quite good, but I’m not too excited about the spaghetti squash, as it did not form strands. Next time I’ll use sprouted-grain spaghetti.


  1. Fine Cooking recipe by Liz Pearson (
  2. Wikipedia, on Ragù (ù

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