Quick Tomato Ragu Pasta Sauce

Tomato Ragu Pasta Sauce
Sofie Delauw / Getty Images
Ratings (7)
  • Total: 55 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: About 3 1/2 cups (7 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
117 Calories
5g Fat
15g Carbs
3g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This sauce is a paired down, simplified version of the classic and requires less simmering. Yet all things are relative, it is "quick" by comparison—it's ready in less than an hour. Use it on a substantial pasta shape such as penne.

For more of a deep tomato flavor, add a tablespoon or more of tomato paste (if you have Homemade Tomato Paste in the house, all the better!). If what you have on hand is fresh tomatoes, not jarred or canned, may I suggest you try this Fresh Tomato Sauce instead? It's designed to capture that wonderful fresh tomato flavor.

Some people would say that this sauce is best made with ground veal. They may be right, but it works just fine with ground pork, ground beef, or even ground turkey. Some people would also say the sauce needs a splash of red wine vinegar or a tablespoon of sugar, and they may be right about that, too, since these things are all a matter of taste. Season this sauce as you like it! (Full disclosure: at my house, we tend to add a generous pinch of red pepper flakes in with the onion for a sauce with a bit of a kick. Feel free to follow our fine example.)


  • 3 Tablespoons butter (divided)
  • 1/2 medium onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 stalk celery (chopped)
  • Optional: 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
  • 8 ounces ground meat
  • 1/2 to 1 cup wine (red or white)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large frying pan or sauté pan over medium high heat, melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter. When the butter is melted and stops foaming, add the onion and sprinkle with the salt. Cook, stirring the onions once in awhile as you think of it and to keep them from sticking, until the onions turn a bit translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring most of the time, until the garlic is fragrant, about a minute.

  2. Add whatever ground meat you've decided to use, increase the heat to high, and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until the meat is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.

  3. Add the wine, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from the pan into the sauce. Add the tomatoes and bring to a light boil, crushing the tomatoes into smaller pieces with the back of a spoon, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook undisturbed, at a gentle simmer without stirring until the fat separates out from the sauce, 30 to 40 minutes. Stir to combine the sauce again, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and stir to melt it. Add the pepper and taste the sauce, adding more salt (or adding some vinegar or sugar, if that's your thing) to taste. Serve the sauce tossed with hot pasta or use in a lasagna.