I'd been looking for a different take on red sauce since the beginning of fall, but as it turned out, the answer was on my bookshelf the whole time. Precisely, on page 166 of Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift's The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper: Hollow Pasta with Greek Cinnamon-Tomato Sauce. Not only is the sauce in this recipe delicious, but it also takes less than 30 minutes to make, prep included! And the mixture of ground cinnamon, hot red pepper flakes, and rich, earthy lamb meat is nothing short of a revelation. Though I did make a few tweaks to the original recipe, I kept the yield as is, so you'll have a good amount of extra sauce. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and enjoy it over pasta for dinner later in the week.
Note: I tried this recipe two ways: with goat's cheese (as written below), and with a lemony mint yogurt sauce. In the end I liked the goat's cheese slightly better, because of the nice way it melts into the sauce, but if you want a zestier flavor, feel free to try the yogurt instead. To make the yogurt sauce, mix together 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice. Season with salt to taste. **This sauce also makes a great dip for pizza crust.**
Greek Ragu Pizza, based on The Splendid Table's Greek Cinnamon-Tomato Sauce
Makes one 12-inch pizza
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 pound ground lamb
- Makes one 12-inch pizza
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball Basic Pizza Dough (or pre-made dough)
- 4 ounces fresh goat's cheese, crumbled (or 1/3 cup yogurt-mint sauce, see note, above)
Place your pizza stone (if using) on an oven rack about 8 inches from the broiler. If you plan to cook your pizza on a baking sheet, place a rack in the middle of the oven (you do not need to preheat the baking sheet). Preheat the oven to 500°F and let it heat up for at least 30 minutes while you make the dough and/or prepare the toppings.
To prep the toppings: Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook the ground lamb, stirring frequently and breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it is evenly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked meat to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Set aside.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, parsley, a generous sprinkling of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Cook the onion for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until softened and beginning to brown. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then add the wine. Using your hands, crush the tomatoes into the pan and pour in their juices. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cooked lamb meat.
To stretch/roll out the dough: Dust the ball of dough with flour and place it on a well-floured work surface. Using your hands or a rolling pin, gently stretch or roll the dough into a 12-inch disk.
If you’re using a pizza stone: Dust a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet generously with flour or cornmeal. Place the dough disk on the prepared peel.
If you're using a baking sheet: Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the dough disk on the prepared baking sheet.
To top the pizza: Spoon about one-third of the sauce onto the dough and spread it evenly, leaving a 1/2-inch border of dough all around. Scatter on the cheese. Transfer the remaining sauce to an airtight container to eat on pasta throughout the week. (It'll keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.)
To bake the pizza: If you're using a pizza stone, 10 minutes before you are ready to cook the pizza, increase the oven heat to broil. Slide the pizza from the peel (or inverted baking sheet) to the hot stone using quick shimmying movements. Broil the pizza for 6 to 8 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese just begins to brown. Using the peel or inverted baking sheet, transfer the cooked pizza to a cutting board. If you are making more than one pizza, allow the pizza stone to reheat under the broiler for 5 minutes before you cook the next one.
If you're using a baking sheet, do not increase the oven to broil. Place the baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the oven and bake at 500°F for about 10 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese just begins to brown.
Let the pizza rest for 5 minutes, then sprinkle on the remaining tablespoon of parsley; slice and serve. **If you are using yogurt sauce instead of goat's cheese, scoop it into a small resealable plastic bag, snip off one of the bottom corners of the bag, and pipe it onto the pizza; slice and serve.**