Pasta Genovese (pasta alla Genovese) is a delicious slow cooked beef and onion ragu that is tossed with pasta before serving. This simple rustic Italian sauce is actually from Naples, despite its name. It can be served as a casual meal yet it's fancy enough to entertain with. This Genovese sauce recipe will walk you through all the steps to make this delicious and easy dish.
Table of contents
- Pasta alla Genovese, a dish from Naples, Italy
- What is Pasta Genovese
- Ingredients you will need to make Pasta Genovese
- How to make Pasta Genovese
- Tips for making Pasta alla Genovese
- More Easy Entertaining Recipes
- Pasta alla Genovese Recipe
Pasta alla Genovese, a dish from Naples, Italy
Pasta Genovese is one of my favorite Italian recipes. It is a dish from Napoli (Naples) not Genoa despite its name.
There are many stories as to why this dish from Naples is called Genovese but no clear one that everyone can agree on. You can find this rustic Italian dish all through Naples and it has become a staple recipe for Southern Italians.
No matter where it is from, pasta Genovese is a really simple and delicious beef ragu that anyone can make.
What is Pasta Genovese
Though it may seem by looking at the picture that this dish has tomatoes in it, it actually does not. Pasta Genovese sauce is made by roasting a beef chuck roast in a copious amount of onions, pancetta, carrots, herbs and white wine.
The onions which are sliced very thin will break down (with a few that don't which add some texture) into the sauce. In addition to the onions, the beef rendering down and white wine add to the richness.
The onions in the Genovese sauce turn a deep golden color when cooking.
The final result is the most amazing sauce that is added to a sturdy pasta like rigatoni. The tender and succulent beef roast is served along side the pasta as a second course.
It is really delicious and perfect for any occasion. You really need to try this dish.
Making this Pasta Genovese recipe is very easy and so are the ingredients. You just need to be home when making this since the first part of the recipe has you turn the meat after an hour.
The rest is just letting it simmer on your stove top in a heavy bottom dutch oven or pot.
Ingredients you will need to make Pasta Genovese
- Beef Chuck roast (boneless)
- Onions (lots of them)
- White wine
- Rigatoni pasta (or a similar sturdy wide shaped pasta)
- Fresh thyme
- Olive oIl
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Fresh good quality Parmesan for serving
If you saw the lots of onions part of the ingredients list, it is correct. There are lots of them in this pasta Genovese recipe.
To be exact it is around 3 pounds of onions. That is about 4-5 large yellow onions.
It may seem a bit scary or that it is too much, but believe me, it all works. There is so much flavor in this Genovese sauce.
You will add some of the Genovese sauce over the roast before serving as well.
How to make Pasta Genovese
The first thing you are going to do is prepare all of your ingredients and sear your meat. Searing of the meat will add richness to the Genovese sauce.
Make sure you do not skip this step! Searing the meat really helps to seal in the flavors of the meat.
It also leaves behind some nice browning in the bottom of the pot which will be scraped down later. This is another layer of flavor!
The next steps are going to be adding in all that flavor that is in the Genovese sauce; the pancetta, onions, thyme and carrots. You want to make sure you saute them well so they release all of their juices and flavor.
This is going to blend in to the sauce that is made from the meat juices. Once you do this, you add the meat to the pot and cover with a lid.
You will bring it to a light to simmer so it can start cooking and doing its thing. Most of the time that it takes to make this delicious Italian roast is hands off time.
You will let it all simmer together for about an hour. After that you flip the meat over and give it another couple hours for the meat to become tender and the onions to develop into a sauce.
The wine will be added towards the end to round it all out. This is when all those layers of flavor I mentioned earlier will really come in.
The searing of the meat and cooking down of the aromatics and pancetta earlier will really blend in to the wine here. All of that flavor was still in the pot.
It is so good and so simple!
I really love how easy this pasta Genovese is to make. I will serve it on holidays and when I am entertaining and just for family.
You only need to do a couple things to make this dish and it is so beautiful.
My favorite thing about this Genovese recipe is that it makes a pasta and a roast. So you have a first and second course with minimal effort and who would not love a beef and onion ragu.
Tips for making Pasta alla Genovese
Making pasta Genovese in the slow cooker
You can make this Genovese recipe in the slow cooker if you want by following all of the steps up to the point of simmering the roast. From there you just add your ingredients to a slow cooker and turn on low for 6-7 hours or until the meat is tender.
It actually will cook in just a few hours on simmer on the stove top which I find more convenient. If you are looking for more beef recipes in the slow cooker, you may like my brisket recipe or my beef bourguignon.
It comes out tender each time.
Preparing the Genovese sauce ahead of time
You can prepare this recipe ahead of time by prepping your veggies (onions and carrots) and storing them in a sealed container until ready to cook. You can also tie your meat ahead of time which all of these steps will save you most of the prepping time when you are ready to start cooking it.
How to re-heat this beef and onion ragu
To re-heat the meat, just pre-heat an oven to 350 degrees. Place your meat and sauce in aluminum foil and seal it well so it does not leak.
Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the sauce is nice and hot and the meat is warmed through.
I do not recommend re-heating the pasta. It will be better to make a fresh batch of pasta and add the warmed sauce to it. Reserve a little of the pasta water in case the pasta and sauce are too dry.
More Easy Entertaining Recipes
- The Best Baked Ham with Glaze
- Citrus Roasted Chicken
- Beef Bourguignon in the Slow Cooker
- All Day Beef Stew
- Chicken with Tarragon
- Pork Bolognese
- Italian Sunday Gravy
- Provencal Beef Stew
Pasta alla Genovese Recipe
Pasta Genovese (Italian beef and onion ragu)
Tried the Recipe? We Would Love To Hear From You In The Comments Below!
- 2 lbs Boneless Beef Chuck roast
- 3 lbs Yellow Spanish onions sliced very thin
- 1 lb Rigatoni or any other wide sturdy pasta
- 1 cup good white wine I like a nice Italian white wine for this like pinot grigio
- 3 carrots cleaned and diced small
- 4 ounces cubed pancetta you can find this in your deli
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- Grab all of your ingredients and have them ready.
- Slice your onions as thin as possible and set aside.
- Dice your carrots and set aside.
- Tie your beef with kitchen twine. This helps hold the meat together during cooking. If you do not have twine that is ok.
- Pre-heat a heavy bottom dutch oven or pot on medium heat.
- Add your salt and pepper to your beef roast.
- Add your olive oil and red pepper flakes to the pot and cook for 1 minute.
- Add your beef roast to the pot and sear all sides of the beef.
- Once the beef is seared on all sides, remove from the pot and place on a plate.
- Now add your pancetta and diced carrots to your pot still over medium heat and cook until the pancetta is crispy.
- Add your sprigs of thyme to the pot and your beef roast.
- Add your sliced onions over top of the beef roast and cover and let simmer for about 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, flip the beef roast over and place the lid back on your pot and let simmer for 2 more hours.
- After a total of 3 hours, check your beef roast and make sure it is fork tender. If it is, remove the roast from the oven and place on a plate and cover with aluminum foil.
- Now add your wine to the pot and simmer with the lid off for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, place the lid back on your pot and continue simmering over low.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, add a large handful of salt to the pot.
- Now add your pasta and cook according to the manufacturers instructions for al dente.
- Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain pasta when ready.
- Pour drained pasta back into the pot.
Assembling the Pasta Genovese
- Add ¼ of your reserved pasta water to your Genovese sauce and mix well.
- If Genovese sauce looks to thick you can add a little more pasta water as needed.
- Scoop a few ladles of your Genovese sauce over your pasta and mix it in.
- Now add the remaining Genovese sauce over top of your beef roast.
- Serve them together at the table with copious amounts of fresh Parmesan.
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here