Open ravioli an inside-out twist on a favorite comfort food

Bacon, sausage and fresh pear team up for an "open ravioli" dish that's perfect for late fall. (Tribune News Service)

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 late 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 1/4 pound of sliced roast beef, but I doubled the amount of bacon instead.

MEAT AND PEAR OPEN RAVIOLI

Servings: 4

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 1/2 lemon

1/3 cup grana padano or other aged cheese, or more to taste

Dash or 2 of ground cinnamon

Freshly grated nutmeg

Minced fresh parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 or 3 amaretti cookies, crushed

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the sausage from its casing, and crumble it into the pan; cook until browned. Add the pear, raisins, garlic and sage. Cook mixture until pears are soft.

Meanwhile, boil the 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.

(Adapted from "Pasta Modern" by Francine Segan; Stewart, Tabori and Chang; October 2013)

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