Gargati with Spring Ragu (il Consiero)
Known as il consiero, this mixed meat ragu from Vicenza in Veneto is a really interesting sauce that actually changes with the seasons. In this version, gargati with spring ragu, the sauce is made of lardo and 3 white meats, as well as fresh peas and asparagus!
Gargati con il consiero.
There is no set recipe for il consiero ragu! This is a sauce that comes from farming and peasant traditions and was invented to use up leftover meat. The meat was enriched with strictly seasonal vegetables.
Originally, il consiero was prepared with a piece of lardo (cured pork fatback) cut into small pieces. Then they added onions or shallots, parsley and other aromatic herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage and even basil when in season) and some leftover meat cuts as well as some tomato concentrate. Over time, other ingredients went into this sauce, always in keeping with the season!
A recipe for all seasons.
In spring, Il consiero was made with white meat, often from the farmyard, such as duck, goose, chicken or turkey. In autumn, beef and red meats were used. And in winter, they preferred meats that were even heavier and more fatty, such as sausages, pancetta and even a few pieces of game.
Vegetables also varied depending on the season.. For example, in spring; wild asparagus, cultivated asparagus, peas and wild herbs. In summer; spring onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and zucchini. Whilst in autumn; mushrooms and in winter; late Treviso radicchio and artichokes.
A spring version of gargati con il consiero.
This version of Il consiero, which I have called gargati with spring ragu, is made with lardo, chicken, pork and veal. Nowadays people make this recipe with fresh meat. But, I think it can be made with leftover meat too! The veggies I used are fresh peas and fresh asparagus. Both these vegetables are just in season now. Both are important crops in the area where I live. In fact, I actually have peas growing in my garden. However, this year we planted them late and they won’t be ready till May.
There are many recipes for peas or asparagus here in Veneto. Both are used in traditional risotto recipes as well as with pasta. Check out my recipe for fusilli with asparagus and pasta with peas and pancetta.
The most traditional pasta for this spring ragu, or il consiero, is gargati. This pasta is unique to Veneto and not found in other regions. Gargati is short fresh egg pasta tubes originally made with a hand operated pasta extruder called a bigolaro. The same tool was used to make bigoli, an ancient pasta also particular to the Veneto region and still very popular here. Gargati pasta is less popular but is particularly traditional in Vicenza and Treviso. You can read more about gargati and the bigolaro if you click here.
Of course you can use other pasta for this gargati with spring ragu recipe. Since gargati is pasta tubes, I would suggest using other smallish tubes such as ditali, sedani, elbow macaroni or even penne.
Adjust the recipe to suit you.
Like the people of Veneto you can also adjust this recipe to suit what is available where you live. For the spring version you can use turkey instead of veal (which can be expensive) and veggies that are seasonal in your part of the world. Instead of lardo (not lard but cured pig fatback) use guanciale or a fatty bacon. The point is to make a ragu that is full of seasonal fare, lighter in spring, richer in winter!
If you do try this gargati with spring ragu recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.
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Other traditional pasta recipes from Veneto on The Pasta Project.
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Gargati with spring ragu (il consiero)
- 400 g gargati pasta (14oz) or other pasta tubes
- 120 g pork tenderloin (4oz)
- 120 g veal tenderloin (4oz)
- 120 g chicken breast (4oz)
- 60 g lardo (cured pork fatback) (2oz) or fatty bacon or guanciale
- 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
- 2 shallots peeled and finely chopped
- 1 carrot washed and finely chopped
- 500 g fresh green asparagus (17oz)
- 250 g fresh peas (9oz) or 150g frozen (6oz)
- 1 handful fresh herbs ( rosemary, sage, marjoram)
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg freshly grated
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1/2 glass white wine
- 1-2 tbsp tomato concentrate (paste)
- 1 cup beef or chicken stock
- salt for pasta and to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Parmigiano or Grana cheese grated (as required)
- Wash the asparagus and remove the hard end of the stalk. You can do this by gently bending the asparagus and it should break naturally in the right place. Using kitchen string tie the asparagus into bundles of about 8. If using fresh peas shell them.
- Coarsely cut the meats and the lardo into small pieces. Peel and finely chop the onion and shallots. Wash and finely chop the carrot. Wash and chop the herbs. Leave the bay leaves whole.
- Fry the onion, carrot and shallots with the lardo in a little olive oil until everything starts to soften and the lardo starts to melt. Then add the coarsely cut meats, raise the heat and sauté over a high heat until the meat has started to brown.
- Add the chopped herbs, bay leaves, grated nutmeg and sprinkle with a generous splash of wine. When the wine has evaporated, add the tomato paste. If using fresh peas add them now. Mix everything together. Season with salt and pepper and reduce heat to a simmer.
- From time to time, pour in small amounts of boiling broth and stir. Let the sauce cook until the meat is soft, about 15-20 minutes. If using frozen peas add them 5 minutes before the end. When the sauce is ready remove the bay leaves.
- Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil
- Cook the asparagus in the boiling pasta water. Remove when cooked (about 5-10 minutes) then add the pasta to the same water and cook al dente according to the instructions on the packet.
- Drain the pasta and mix it with the sauce. Serve immediately with whole asparagus or cut the asparagus and mix the pieces into the sauce and pasta. Serve with grated Parmigiano or grana if required.
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