Tagliatelle al ragù alla Bolognese

The first documented recipe for a meat sauce in which the cooked meat was an integral part of the sauce served with pasta dates to the end of the 18th century. That first Ragù as a sauce, Ragù for maccheroni, was prepared and recorded by Alberto Alvisi, the cook to the Cardinal of Imola (at the time maccheroni was a general term for pasta, both dried and fresh). The recipe has been replicated and published as The Cardinal's Ragù. The following recipe is how Nonna Peppa cooks  Ragù in Sardinia - simple and tasty!

Serves 4


Cardinal of Imola
Half a small onion (very finely chopped)
1 kg of fresh tomatoes
bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
300 g of mixed mince
half a cube of vegetable stock
1 tsp of nutmeg
2 tbls of Extra virgin olive oil

Peel the tomatoes (trick: before peeling them pass the blade of a knife over the skin without cutting it or alternatively put them in boiling water for 5 seconds; peeling them will be much easier)

Crush the tomatoes and sieve the sauce so that all the seeds and hard bits are separated. If you are lucky enough to have a "passapomodoro" the process will be quicker!

The home-made 'passata' is now ready. You can use a bottle of passata if you don't want to do the above but fresh passata will always taste better.

On a very low heat gently fry the mince and onion in a pan with the olive oil for approximately 2 minutes or until the mince is brown. Use a wooden spoon to make sure the mince is well separated

Add the passata and stir, always on very low heat. If you use ready made passata you also need to add half a glass of water

Add the parsley, the stock and grated nutmeg

Cover and let cook for about half an hour always on a  very low heat. Leave it more if it looks very liquid or less if it starts looking too dense. Salt to taste and Enjoy with fresh pasta if possible.