Traditional recipes

Candele pasta with pork ragu recipe

Candele pasta with pork ragu recipe

  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Pasta
  • Pasta sauce

This is a traditional dish from Naples, typically served on a Sunday. Pork ribs, called 'tracchie' are used to make a rich tomato ragu which is served with 'candele' pasta. Then eat the braised ribs for the second course!

5 people made this

IngredientsServes: 5

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1kg pork ribs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 120ml white wine
  • 1.5kg tinned tomatoes, crushed with a fork
  • salt and pepper, as needed
  • 500g candele pasta or other tube pasta
  • grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:2hr ›Ready in:2hr15min

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and minced garlic; cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add pork ribs and bay leaf; cook the ribs, turning them until browned on all sides.
  3. Pour in wine; increase heat and simmer until the alcohol evaporates. Add crushed tomatoes, stir, cover and cook for 90 minutes to 2 hours on low heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the ribs and a few spoonfuls of the sauce into a serving dish; keep warm to serve later.
  4. Break the candele pasta with your hands into about 4-5cm tubes. Cook in abundant salty water until al dente.
  5. Drain pasta and transfer to a bowl. Add the sauce and toss to combine. Bring the pasta to the table and serve with freshly grated Parmesan.
  6. Serve the pork ribs as the main or second course, using the same plates.

Candele pasta:

Candele translates to candle in Italian. This pasta is long with a hollow centre and is typically used in Southern Italy.

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Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and tap to coat the interior of the dish, tapping out the excess. Run the pork shoulder through the coarse holes of a meat grinder. (You can also use pre-ground pork or sausage, but the coarsely ground texture is preferred).

In a food processor, combine the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Process to make a smooth pestata. To a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the pestata, and cook until it dries out and is light golden, about 5 minutes. Add the ground pork, and season with the salt and crushed red pepper. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the pork releases its juices, about 7 minutes. Increase the heat to get the juices boiling, and cook until they are reduced away and the pork is browned, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine, and cook until reduce by half, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, slosh out the can with 1 cup pasta water, and add that, too. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the pork is tender, about 30 minutes.

Add the zucchini, and cook until it is tender and the sauce is thick, about 20 minutes more.

When the zucchini is almost done, cook the pasta in the boiling water until just al dente (they will cook more as they bake). Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water. In a medium bowl, toss the mozzarella and grated Grana Padano together.

When the sauce is ready, add the elbows and toss to coat the pasta in the sauce, adding a splash of pasta water if it seems dry. Remove the pot from the heat, and fold in half of the cheese mixture. Spread the pasta in the prepared pan, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese mixture. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the top is brown and crusty, about 25 minutes. Let it sit 5 minutes before serving.

Ground Pork Ragù & Orecchiette Pasta

To add exciting contrast of flavor to this comforting pasta, you’ll cook savory pork with plump, sweet currants and briny capers in a bright sauce flavored with our warming spice blend, quatre épices (or four spices), which features white pepper, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.

Full recipe coming soon!

Our culinary team is preparing this recipe.

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Fill a medium pot 3/4 of the way up with salted water cover and heat to boiling on high. Peel and roughly chop 2 cloves of garlic. Wash and dry the peppers cut off and discard the stems, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Thoroughly was your hands immediately after handling. Place the currants in a bowl cover with 1/4 cup of hot water. Set aside to rehydrate at least 10 minutes.

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, 9 to 11 minutes, or until al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Turn off the heat. Reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, drain thoroughly and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, in a medium pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the pepper pieces in an even layer season with salt and pepper. Cook, without stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Wipe out the pan.

In the same pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the pork, chopped garlic, capers, and quatre épices season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently and breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 4 to 6 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the tomato paste and as much of the red pepper flakes as you&rsquod like, depending on how spicy you&rsquod like the dish to be season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined. Add 1/4 cup of water (carefully, as the liquid may splatter) and the rehydrated currants (including the liquid) season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly thickened and the pork is cooked through. Turn off the heat.

How to make the Pork Ragu

Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.

  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper, then brown in a pan (or slow cooker if it has a searing function) in a little butter and oil.
  2. Turn the heat down and add chopped onion. Cook until softened, then add red pepper and garlic, followed by red wine.
  3. Next in goes tomato puree, sugar, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, tinned tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and stock. Stir, bring to the boil (transfer to slow cooker now if you've been using a pan).
  4. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
  5. Discard the bay leaves and shred the meat. Add in a little more salt and pepper if needed and serve.


To a cold, heavy bottomed frying pan add the olive oil, sliced garlic, kosher salt, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper and chopped thyme.

Turn the heat on to medium until garlic starts to brown, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and reduce the heat to low. Add in the shredded pork and simmer for 3 minutes.

In a large pot bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil. When boiling, add the pasta and cook for 3 minutes.

Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water. Add to the ragu and cook, tossing in the pan for 1-2 minutes. Add the butter and parsley and toss to incorporate.

Tagliatelle with a lemon pork ragù

Peel the garlic cloves, cut in half lengthways and remove the green shoot at the centre. Gently warm the garlic and oil in a large frying pan (big enough to toss the pasta in later). As it starts to colour, take off the heat and let the garlic infuse for 5 minutes, then discard it.

Tip the onion and celery into the garlic scented oil, sprinkle with a little salt and return to a gentle heat. Let them soften, without colouring, for 8-10 minutes. They should sweat rather than fry, so if you hear sizzling add water, a tablespoon at a time.

Add the pancetta and cook for another 6minutes, adding water as before. Stir in the pork and turn the heat up. Don’t colour the meat too much and avoid breaking it up. Add the wine and let it evaporate, then season. Pour in 200ml/7fl oz water, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Mix in a little water if the mixture gets too dry.

While the ragù is cooking, put a pan with plenty of water on to boil. Grate the Parmesan and the zest from the lemon.

When the water is at a rolling boil add 2 tsp salt, then the pasta. Partly cover, bring back to the boil, give it a good stir and reduce the heat so the water boils gently. Taste the pasta 2 minutes before the timing on the packet – remember it will keep cooking while it is tossed with the ragù.

Drain the pasta, reserving some pasta water. Immediately transfer the pasta to the frying pan and toss well over a low heat. Tip in the parmesan and toss well. Add pasta water to dilute, or extra cheese to absorb excess liquid, and mix again.

No dish long enough, no pot deep enough!

Like two other similar pastas called ziti and zitoni, candele are usually broken by hand into 2 or 3 irregular pieces before being cooked. I had wanted to cook them intact but unfortunately I didn’t have an oven dish long enough to do that! (For my first candele recipe, I baked them in the sauce rather than boil them)

Even if I had wanted to boil them, I couldn’t fit them into our tallest pot. I read an article in which the writer said he had cooked the candele about a minute on one side, then rotated them and started the other side. Then slowly pushed the pieces into the water as they softened. This took quite a bit of time and although most of the pieces didn’t break, it was apparently difficult.

Whether cooked intact (I think only possible in the oven not boiled) or in pieces, when boiling this pasta it’s important to make sure to use a lot of salt in the water and once it’s cooked, be sure to drain very carefully. The candele can potentially store a lot of water inside each tube because they are also pretty wide.

Recipes with candele pasta.

Candele are great for making baked pasta recipes and that seems to be the normal way to cook them in Campania. They are usually boiled before baking and traditionally served with heavier sauces such as Neopolitan ragu. However, they also go well with vegetable sauces, especially with tomatoes, olives and capers or vegetables like zucchini, aubergines and bell peppers.

I have found a number of artisan Neopolitan pasta makers who make candele, as well as a couple of the bigger pasta producers and they can be ordered online. The ones my hubby found were from De Cecco. My first recipe for candele is a vegetarian pasta bake because one of my guests that day was a vegetarian. The dish was scrumptious and it seems to me this pasta has a unique taste and consistency. So if you can get hold of some do give it a try!

Candele can be used in recipes for Zitoni and even Ziti like this delicious baked ziti or zitoni with spicy sausage

Cooking for One: Pasta with Pork Ragù

  • balanced
  • shellfish-free
  • tree-nut-free
  • high-fiber
  • fish-free
  • alcohol-free
  • soy-free
  • egg-free
  • peanut-free
  • Calories 701
  • Fat 34.6 g (53.3%)
  • Saturated 11.4 g (56.8%)
  • Carbs 66.2 g (22.1%)
  • Fiber 11.7 g (46.7%)
  • Sugars 15.8 g
  • Protein 33.3 g (66.7%)
  • Sodium 710.8 mg (29.6%)


peeled and chopped yellow onion

small carrot, peeled and finely chopped

freshly ground black pepper

diced tomatoes, including juice

elbow macaroni, cooked according to package instructions


In a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil 30 seconds. Add onions and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes until carrots soften.

Add garlic, pork, salt, pepper, and oregano to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, 4 minutes until pork is browned.

Add diced tomatoes and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add cooked pasta and stir to coat. Top with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy hot.

Recipe Notes

Excerpted from The Ultimate Cooking for One Cookbook by Joanie Zisk. Copyright © 2019 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.

Braised Pork Ragu Pasta

Braised Pork Ragu Pasta is the ultimate, cozy weather, winter comfort food for special occasions and comforting weeknight dinners alike. It’s unbelievably flavorful, rich, filled with concentrated tomato flavor, and tender, fall-apart, slow-simmered pork. It’s elegant, but surprisingly simple to make. If you need a dish to impress, this is it!

I don’t even know how to begin, other than to say that this pork ragu should be the dictionary definition for comfort food. There’s honestly nothing better, nothing more comforting, and nothing cozier than slow braised pork on top of a bowl of pasta. Literally nothing better. And this dish just happens to encompass my two favorite food groups: pork, and pasta. I say that kind of jokingly, but I’m 100% serious. Those two would have to be my favorite foods in the world, beating potatoes by a hair. But that’s neither here nor there! Let’s chat about this magical ragu.

Other than the fact that the flavor alone of this ragu (not to mention it’s stunning) leaves me pretty much speechless, it couldn’t be easier to make, and it’s all made in ONE pot! Yep, no dirtying a bunch of dishes here. I know we all love that.

It gets braised (just a fancy word for slow-simmering or baking at a relatively low temperature for an extended period of time) in one pot, so all of that ridiculous flavor from the seared pork, red wine, and herbs gets locked in!


It all begins with searing some pork shoulder. Boneless pork shoulder, to be exact. Seasoned liberally with salt and pepper, and seared in a little olive oil to get that golden brown, beautiful crust. We get to keep allllll that flavor from the pork fat in the pot, and it serves as the basis for this incredible dish. Don’t be shy with getting a good sear on the pork – it makes all the difference! Color = flavor.

For the pork, I get boneless pork shoulder, because it’s easier to work with. Usually, I’m all for bone-in meats when I’m looking to lock in and develop tons of flavor, but here, we want to use boneless! I like to cut mine into 1-inch or so cubes, and I also like to trim off any large sections of fat. Don’t forget to season the heck out of it either – I’m talking at least a teaspoon of salt on the pork alone, and a good amount of black pepper. Pork ragu really needs to be seasoned well – the heartiness of this dish really allows for it. So don’t be afraid to season season season!

Aside from the pork giving us a lot of the flavor in this ragu, we’ve also got aromatics in the form of onion, celery, and carrot, garlic, red wine, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes AND tomato sauce, bay leaf, and fresh herbs. And one more secret ingredient – allspice! I like adding some kind of warm spice to my pork dishes, whether it’s cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, or cloves. Something about the hint of the warm, sweet spices and pork is just perfection.

Everything cooks down for about 2.5 hours, and we’re left with the most concentrated pork ragu goodness.

Can you even? It’s pretty incredible what braising can do. I could honestly just eat a bowl of straight up pork ragu sans pasta and call it a night. It’s SO unbelievably good. There’s no other way to explain it!

If you didn’t want to serve this over pasta, you could totally serve it over some creamy parmesan polenta, or even potatoes! It would also be delicious tossed with some pillowy gnocchi. But then again, what isn’t?!

If you’re at all intimidated by making something so seemingly elegant, stop right there! This pork ragu is honestly SO easy. Surprisingly easy, in fact. There are just a few techniques and core steps to getting this pork ragu to be perfect.

This is how you make it!

  • Begin by liberally seasoning your pork shoulder cubes with salt and pepper, and sear them on all sides until they’re deeply golden brown (it might take a few batches!). Then, set the pork aside in a bowl while you sauté the aromatics.
  • Now we’ve got all of that incredible pork fat to work with for our sautéing! First the garlic, then the onion, carrot, and celery. Always the base for something good.
  • After the aromatics sauté for a few minutes, we add the tomato paste and red wine, and let that reduce for a couple of minutes. I love reducing the tomato paste with the wine before I add any of the tomatoes, because it really helps develop an extra layer of flavor that you wouldn’t get if you added everything at once!
  • Next up, are the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, spices, and herbs. And, the pork goes back into the pot!
  • Then, we simmer. For a good 2 – 2 1/2 hours. No less! We’ve gotta slow-braise, reduce the tomatoes into nearly jam, and get that pork as tender as possible. Don’t peek too often! Let it do its thing.
  • Once you’re ready to eat, cook your pasta, and reserve a little pasta water to help thin out the sauce a little bit. I like using a wide noodle for this ragu. Something like pappardelle, tagliatelle, or mafaldine are all great choices!
  • Toss everything together, and serve with lots of freshly grated parmiggiano reggiano. The real stuff. No pre-grated parm for this meal!

So you can see, nothing crazy! One pot, and just a little patience is all you need.

Or maybe a lot of patience.

I can’t tell you how much you need to go make this, but you need to go make this. Whether you need some real-deal cooking therapy, or if it’s just for yourself on a lazy weekend, or if it’s for date night, or for a dinner party, this is the stuff of dreams. The kind of meal that puts a huge, giddy smile on my face, and anyone who tries it.

And if you’re looking for a quicker pasta, that’s just as delicious, but a different kind of delicious, this green olive pasta is what you need in your life.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 pounds mixed boneless, skin-on pork pieces (such as shank, trotter, and belly meat)
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) dry white wine
  • 3 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups strained tomatoes (such as Pomì)
  • 2 pounds fresh Hand-Rolled Busiate or 1 pound dried short pasta (such as gemelli)

Stir together pork, wine, and 2 teaspoons salt in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate 12 hours.

Assemble a chilled meat grinder with the coarse grinding plate attach to a stand mixer. Remove pork from refrigerator, and drain. Set stand mixer to medium speed. Pass pork pieces through the feed tube into a large bowl.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic cook, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add ground pork cook, stirring often, until pork is crumbly and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Stir in strained tomatoes. Reduce heat to low cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, about 3 hours. Stir in remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Keep warm.

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high. Add busiate to boiling water. Return to a boil stir and cook until busiate just rises to surface, about 3 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Gently stir cooked pasta into warm ragù, adding cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, as needed to emulsify sauce.

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