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Leftover Lamb Ragu (with Pasta)

Hearty leftover lamb ragu served with pasta, this is probably the most delicious way of using up leftover roast lamb.

This leftover lamb ragu is the perfect solution for anything that’s left from your Easter lamb roast. Roast leg or shoulder, cooked in the oven or in the slow cooker, they are all suitable for making this ragu with pasta.

overheat view of a pot of ragu with leftover roast lamb.

Leftover lamb ragu

Easter is just around the corner and if there is one thing, I know for sure is that we will have lots and lots of leftover hard-boiled eggs and lots of leftover roast lamb. Every year the same story. Either a leg or a shoulder of lamb, they are always too large to eat in one meal, so leftover recipes ideas are always welcomed.

And this leftover lamb ragout or ragu is the perfect recipe for cooked lamb leftovers. It tastes incredibly delicious, it’s comforting, easy and quick to make and it’s served with pasta, which is always a bonus.

And if you are looking for ideas for using up those hard-boiled eggs, have a look at this Egg Salad with Greek Yogurt, these German Mustard Eggs, or this collection of recipes using hard-boiled eggs.

pappardelle and lamb ragu on a white plate with parmesan.

Why love this leftover roast lamb recipe?

  • It tastes amazing, rich, comforting, hearty.
  • After you spent so much time cooking for Easter, you will be relieved to have something so quick and delicious to put on the table without having to start from scratch again.
  • Super quick to make. While a ragout made from scratch needs to be cooked long and slowly, the one made with already cooked lamb has a shorter cooking time.
  • It can be made with any sort of leftover lamb you happen to have.
  • Pantry ingredient list. I actually have all the ingredients in my fridge or pantry at all times.
  • You can make a big batch, serve some of the sauce immediately and freeze the rest for other quick mid-week meals.
close up shredded meat being lifted with a wooden spoon.

What do you need for ragu with pasta?

Leftover lamb:

  • Roast shoulder or leg are the best cuts, they are tender and full of flavor. However, if you have other leftover cuts (like steak, breast, neck, chops) you can still use them. In this case, chop them with a knife into small pieces, they are not always as suitable for shredding as slowly roasted meat is.
  • You will need about 250 g/ 2 ½ cups shredded meat, but that is up to you. If you have a bit more or less meat is fine.

What if I don’t have leftovers?

You can still make this recipe. Fry or grill 2-3 steaks in a skillet, just for a few minutes on each side. Let rest for about 5 minutes, chop into pieces, and add to the sauce. Or make the ragu using ground meat. Cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes, add the ground meat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for another five minutes. Proceed with the recipe but simmer the sauce for about 30-40 minutes.

Vegetables:

  • Carrots, onion, garlic, red pepper, canned tomatoes, tomato paste.

Spices:

  • Crushed chili flakes or cayenne pepper, dried rosemary, bay leaves, sugar, salt and pepper.
  • You can use other dried or fresh herbs instead. How about thyme or an Italian or French herb mix?

Liquids:

  • Dry red wine
  • Stock: The best fit would be lamb stock, but if you can’t get it use chicken or beef stock instead. I always use the bone of the lamb roast to make the stock, which I then freeze for future use. Even a stock cube would do, but real stock always tastes better. And less salty.

Pasta:

  • Pappardelle is great and they seem to be the preferred choice when it comes to serving with any kind of lamb ragu. However, absolutely any kind of pasta shape would be perfectly fine.

What can I add?

  • Pancetta or bacon cubes smoked or unsmoked. Cook them with the vegetables.
  • 2-3 small celery sticks chop them finely and cook them with the vegetables.
  • Other spices: try Ras-el Hanout for a Moroccan touch, or just add some ground cumin and coriander for a slight Oriental touch.
cooked meat, vegetables and spices needed for making ragout.

How to make leftover roast lamb pasta?

  • Finely chop the onion, garlic, carrots, pepper.
  • Heat the oil in a large pan, a Dutch oven is perfect for the recipe.
  • Cook the vegetables for about 10 minutes until they are soft, once you add the tomatoes, their acidity will prevent the onions from softening. (1)
  • Add sugar and tomato paste, stir well for 1 minute. (2)
  • Add wine and let bubble away for 1 or 2 minutes, it will happen fast. (3,4)
  • Add tomatoes, stock, bay leaves, rosemary, red chili flakes. Stir well. (5)
  • Simmer gently for 20 minutes. (6)
  • Add shredded or chopped meat and continue simmering for about 10-15 minutes until the meat is heated through and it had time to absorb the flavors.
  • Adjust the taste with Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
  • In the meantime, cook the pasta in plenty of salted water.
collage of six pictures of making ragu with leftover roast lamb.

How to serve?

Serve the ragu with pasta, any kind you like. Alternatively, serve with mashed potatoes (so good and comforting), with rice or simply good crusty bread.

Make a simple salad on the side or serve the leftover lamb pasta with buttered peas, buttered vegetables, Brussels sprouts, or roasted carrots. Or with any kind of leftover vegetables, you might happen to have from Easter lunch.

And me, being Romanian, I love eating any kind of stew or ragu with pickled vegetables. Try some green tomato pickles or sweet-sour zucchini, for instance.

Can you make the sauce in advance?

Definitely. Cook it, let it cool completely, and refrigerate for 2-3 days. Reheat very well, stirring often, on the stovetop. Only cook the pasta (potatoes or rice) just before serving.

Can you freeze lamb ragu?

Yes. Place in freezer containers and freeze for about 2 months. Defrost slowly in the refrigerator and reheat very well before serving.

close up meat ragout with carrots in a pot.

More leftover meat recipes:

pappardelle and lamb ragu on a white plate with parmesan.

Leftover Lamb Ragu (with Pasta)

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Hearty leftover lamb ragu served with pasta, this is probably the most delicious way of using up leftover roast lamb.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 125 ml/ 4.2 fl. oz/ ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (400 g/ 14 oz)
  • 500 ml/ 17 fl. oz/ 2 cups lamb stock (Note 1)
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes (or cayenne pepper to taste)
  • about 250 g/ 8.8 oz/ 2 ½ cups shredded leftover roast lamb (Note 2)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • fine sea salt and ground black pepper
  • some chopped parsley
  • 400 g/ 14 oz pasta (pappardelle or any other kind)

Instructions

  1. Chop the onion, garlic, carrots, and pepper finely.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan (Dutch oven or another large heavy-bottomed pan). Cook the vegetables with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes until they are soft.
  3. Add sugar and tomato paste, stir well for 1 minute and let caramelize slightly.
  4. Pour the wine, let bubble away for 1 or 2 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, stock, bay leaves, rosemary, red chili flakes, or cayenne pepper. Stir well and simmer gently for about 20 minutes.
  6. Add the shredded or chopped meat, stir well. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes more until the meat is heated through and it had time to absorb the flavors.
  7. Adjust the taste with Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley if desired.
  8. While the ragu sauce cooks, cook the pasta in plenty of salted water. Drain and serve with the sauce immediately.

Notes

  • Chicken or beef stock is fine as well. Even a stock cube.
  • A little more or less meat is fine, use what you happen to have. Roast lamb leg or shoulder are the first choices, but other cuts of cooked lamb are fine as well.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/4 of the dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 706Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 811mgCarbohydrates: 91gFiber: 6gSugar: 11gProtein: 33g

Nutritional information is not always accurate.

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