Italian Goat Ragu Recipe with Olives and Marjoram

This delicious Italian goat ragu recipe with olives and marjoram will convert any goat meat skeptics. It’s inspired by the Sicilian love of goat, and other ingredients you might find in the region.

A bowl of penne pasta tossed with Italian goat ragu with olives and fresh marjoram garnished with cheese.
Italian stye goat ragu with olives and marjoram.

Chef Alan Bergo worked under a number of different chefs from Italy, and those experiences deeply influenced his cooking. This recipe draws specifically on Sicilian influences of goat meat, pecorino cheese, a touch of hot chili, and Sicilian Castelvetrano olives, which are a bit milder than other popular olives like the purple kalamata.

How to Make Goat Ragu

Start by building a base of flavor with garlic slices cooked until they just begin to brown with anchovies. Anchovies are a secret to some excellent pasta sauces and add a special umami taste. You can omit them but it won’t be quite the same. Castelvetrano olives, fresh marjoram (oregano can be substituted) and grated pecorino are the other special ingredients that give the dish a Sicilian touch. Most of them can be found at your local supermarket.

Castelvetrano olives and fresh marjoram
Castelvetrano olives and fresh marjoram are two other special ingredients chef recommends.

Chef Alan Bergo
Chef Alan Bergo





This recipe is by James Beard Award-winning Chef Alan Bergo. He’s a chef from Minnesota and author of The Forager Chef’s Book of Flora. Learn more about Chef Alan at 

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Serving Goat Ragu with Pasta

To serve the ragu with pasta like you’d get at a restaurant you need to toss the sauce with cooked pasta and warm it in a sauté pan. Add a knob of unsalted butter, some chopped parsley or fresh mint, then toss the pasta so it absorbs the sauce. This way there’s no pasta that’s undressed, which can stick together or not get dressed with the sauce. Once you try serving pasta like this you’ll never go back!

More Italian Goat and Lamb Recipes

Lamb Scallopini with Mushrooms and Mint

Braised Lamb Sugo (Sunday Gravy) 

Spicy Braised Lamb Meatballs

Penne with goat ragu and olives recipe
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5 from 1 vote

Italian Goat Ragu with Olives and Marjoram

Sicilian-inspired goat ragu made with tomatoes, olives, fresh marjoram or oregano and pecorino cheese. Serves 4
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Goat, Ground goat
Servings: 4 People
Calories: 505kcal
Cost: 10


  • 1 Pasta pot or enamel dutch oven
  • 1 12 inch saute pan


Goat Ragu

  • 1 lb ground goat or ground lamb
  • 1 cup cracked Castelvetrano olives pits removed, halved
  • 1/2 tablespoon anchovy paste or 5 filets, minced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion grated, pureed, or finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more to taste
  • ¼ cup rendered goat fat or virgin olive oil
  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup meat stock preferably goat (water can be substituted)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 8 oz dried penne or ziti pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh marjoram oregano, or ½ teaspoon dried oregano, rubbed between your fingers

For reheating and serving (optional)

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup tomato juice or puree
  • ¼ cup fresh grated pecorino cheese plus more for serving


Goat Ragu

  • Puree the tomatoes in a blender, then pass through a strainer or food mill to remove the seeds (optional).
  • Sweat the garlic in the fat on medium-low until lightly browned and aromatic. Add the anchovy and stir until it melts into the oil.
  • Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the pan is nearly dry.
  • Add the meat, stock, chili, oregano, salt, and tomatoes and bring the mixture to a simmer, then cook with a lid ajar for 1 hour on low heat.
  • Cool the sauce and reserve (it will taste better the next day) or serve with pasta.

Plating and serving

  • To plate the pasta and ragu, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta al dente, drain and combine in a wide pan with the sauce, adding the butter, and tomato juice or puree if the pan looks dry.
  • Double check the seasoning for salt and adjust as needed, but remember the pecorino cheese and olives are both salty ingredients, so go light.
  • Stir in the ¼ cup of pecorino off the heat, divide the mixture between 4 pasta bowls, and serve. Pass more pecorino at the table.


Ground lamb or goat works well, but finely chopped stew meat can also be used. 
Pick your favorite dried pasta or fresh pasta-penne is just a suggestion. 
Fresh marjoram or oregano is the best here, but you can add a dried bay leaf to the sauce if nothing else is available fresh. 


Serving: 8oz | Calories: 505kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 600mg | Potassium: 755mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 635IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 4mg



Goat or lamb ragu with olives and pecorino