A pasta sauce doesn’t need to include a bunch of fancy ingredients, or take a lot of time, to dazzle at dinnertime.
The sausage and pear ravioli recipe from Francine Segan, author of one of my favorite pasta cookbooks, “Pasta Modern,” is but one delectable example. It follows in the footsteps of famed Italian chef Gualtiero Marchesei, who in the 1980s introduced the idea of ravioli aperti, or “open ravioli.”
Instead of being stuffed inside wontons or dough pockets, Segan’s meat and pear filling is used as a free-form sauce for fresh or dried pasta. The combination of salty bacon, sweet Italian sausage and fresh pear is much richer than a classic tomato sauce. It’s especially suited to fall, when we crave comfort food. Raisins, cinnamon and sage build on the autumnal notes, and there’s a sweet finishing crunch from crushed amaretti cookies.
The original recipe calls for adding ¼ pound of sliced roast beef but I doubled the amount of bacon instead.
Meat and pear open ravioli
3 tablespoons butter
4 slices bacon, diced
1 sweet Italian sausage
1 large pear, thinly sliced with peel left on
2 tablespoons golden or regular raisins
1 garlic clove, minced
3 to 4 small sage leaves
1 pound calamarata or other tube pasta
Zest of ½ lemon
⅓ cup grana padano or other aged cheese, or more to taste
Dash ground cinnamon
Freshly grated nutmeg
Minced fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 or 3 amaretti cookies, crushed
In large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage from casing and crumble it into the pan; cook until browned. Add beef (if using), pear, raisins, garlic and sage. Cook mixture until pears are soft.
Meanwhile, boil pasta in salted water until it is almost al dente. Drain, saving a cup of cooking water. Toss drained pasta into the sauce with a few tablespoons of cooking liquid. Stir well and cook, adding more cooking liquid if needed, until pasta is al dente.
Stir in the zest and season with grated cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg and parsley to taste. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve pasta topped with a sprinkling of amaretti crumbs.
Makes 4 servings.
— Adapted from “Pasta Modern” by Francine Segan (Stewart, Tabori and Chang; October 2013)