If you want a knock-your-socks off red sauce, this is it. It's rich and savory with a little kick. My husband and I made it one night, and couldn't stop saying "Oh my god, this is so good". We literally had to stop eating periodically just to compliment it. So we made it again. Then we made it for friends. Then I started making it and freezing it. Ina, thank you for creating this marvelous sauce! It is so easy to make, but worthy of a special occasion.


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground sirloin
  • 4 tsp minced garlic (4-6 cloves)
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or less)
  • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided (Cabernet Sauvignon works great, too)
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 lb dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed, julienned
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (I use half-and-half)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving


  1. Heat olive oil in a large over medium-high heat in a large skillet 
  2. Add the ground sirloin and cook until it starts to brown, 5-7 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to crumble meat as it cooks
  3. Once meat has lost its pink color, add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 more minute, until fragrant 
  4. Stir in 1 cup of the wine to the skillet, scraping up any brown bits  
  5. Then stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, until well-mixed 
  6. Bring sauce to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes
  7. As the sauce reduces, bring a large pot of water to boil, add a tablespoon of salt and the pasta. (Do not skip the salt- it makes a big difference.)
  8. Cook pasta 1-2 minutes short of the recommended amount (It’s ok that it’s al dente, it will finish cooking in the sauce.)
  9. As the pasta cooks, return to the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened
  10. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan, mix until combined 
  11. Drain pasta. Once sauce is complete, add the pasta to the skillet and gently stir to coat the noodles evenly with the sauce 
  12. Top with as much additional Parmesan as you’d like, and enjoy! 

Serves 4-5. 


Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?