Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pasta in a Creamy Tomato Beef Sauce

As a few of you may already know, Adam and I ran in the Pittsburgh Marathon this past weekend after many, many, many (seemingly endless) weeks of training. We had fairly crappy weather during our training and the day of the marathon proved no different -- nice and rainy. Although not quite as bad as last year. I think I'm doomed to have crappy weather during all my long races (if it's not raining, apparently it's going to be ridiculously cold).

Regardless, we made it. A little worse for wear and a bit slower than we were hoping for, but we crossed the finish line all the same. I think the both of us can agree that it's by and far the hardest thing, mentally and physically, we have ever done. (Although I will admit it was a tad bit easier than last year as I knew what to expect from those last 6 miles.)

Before all the chaffing in weird areas, sore feet, and painfully tired legs, we had to decide on a pre-race meal. The pre-race carb-loading dinner is definitely not a new concept (many races even host pasty parties the night before), although one singular high-carb dish isn't going to make all that big of a difference in the long run. (The whole carb-loading plan usually takes about a week to do correctly.) We didn't follow a strict diet during our training, even the week before, but it's always been a tradition with me to eat a nice pasta dinner the night before a big race, so I figured I would stick with it. I opted to go with a very traditional beef and tomato sauce with a little cream cheese added for that extra bit of creaminess -- nothing too out there or crazy, yet a nice little twist on the ol' spaghetti and meat sauce.

Pasta in a Creamy Tomato Beef Sauce

Adapted from: The Meat and Potatoes Foodie

1 pound rigatoni, or other medium-sized tube pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large cloves garlic
1 pound ground sirloin
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
4 ounces tomato paste
1 (15.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, lightly drained
2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Cook the rigatoni to al dente according to package instructions. Drain, reserving at least 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, in a dutch oven over medium-low heat, add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter has melted, add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and tender. Increase the heat to medium and add the ground sirloin, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes. Use a wooden spoon to gently break up the meat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until just done.

Add the wine to the dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the mixture is almost dry. Lower the heat to low, then add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, cream cheese, and oregano. Stir well until the cream cheese has fully melted. Add the pasta to the beef mixture and toss with 1/3 cup of pasta water. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted.

Serves: 8

This dish is almost exactly what I expected -- simple and traditional with a little bit of extra nuance from the wine and cream cheese. Nothing you really haven't had before, but quite satisfying all the same.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 438Calories from fat 106
% Daily Value
Total Fat 11.8g18%
Saturated Fat 5.3g27%
Cholesterol 68mg23%
Sodium 365mg15%
Total Carbs 49.8g17%
Fiber 3.6g14%
Sugars 5.4g
Protein 28.9g
Vitamin A 17%Vitamin C 19%
Calcium 11%Iron 29%


  1. Congratulations on the marathon! This pasta looks delicious. I add ricotta a lot to red sauce to make it a bit more creamy. I have never thought of cream cheese.

  2. It may not be all that out there - but the idea of cream cheese in a meat sauce makes me really want to carb load without the justification of a marathon tomorrow. Congrats on the marathon!! The BF wants to get back into them and I have never been a runner so Im sure Ive got a lot to learn.

  3. Mmm this looks soo delicious!! I love all the ingredients :)

  4. Congrats on running the marathon! This pasta looks amazing, it looks like shape/style of noodle my friend loves from the Italian deli.

  5. congrats on the marathon .. i love pasta.. yours iis just 438 cal but i make it 1400 coz i fill with moreee and more parmesan:)

  6. Congrats on the marathon! I start training for my first half marathon on Sunday! Yikes. This looks like a great meal to throw together when you are short on time!

  7. Congrats on the race! What an accomplishment. This pasta dish looks fabulous and I love my pasta so I will definitely be making this!

  8. Congratulations on the race! That's awesome!

    I love a meaty sauce!! I can't believe that this meal is under 500 cals!

  9. This looks and sounds wonderful! I was just thinking about a meat/tomato sauce for dinner tonight and this might be the choice! Congrats on the race!

  10. Congrats on running the marathon! This pasta dish looks so good. I wish I had this instead of dinner! :)



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