Throwing back to another recent post, I told you about a Spanish tortilla made by one of my study abroad professors in Florence. Well, today's recipe is also inspired by a dish that one of my professors made for us while we were there. Who would have thought that my college architecture professors would have such influence on my cooking? Truthfully though, a lot of my designer friends are great cooks and I think it's because there's something about the creative process of cooking that feels very similar to the design process.
In Florentine cooking, you'll see walnuts and pears used more frequently in cooking than you may expect. Pasta with walnut sauce-- a creamy earthy pesto-like sauce-- was a popular item on the menu at one of my favorite Florence restaurants. And at many of the pizza shops, you could buy a (square) slice of pizza topped with walnuts, pears, and Gorgonzola. With that in mind, it should have been no surprise when one of our professors served a sweet and savory dish of cheese ravioli topped with sauteed pears, onions, and walnuts at one of her dinner parties. It's a simple flavor combination and one you wouldn't necessarily think of putting on pasta, but it is really delicious.
I thought that this pear and walnut combination would work beautifully with my favorite sweet and creamy butternut squash ravioli-- and it was spot on. This dish feels like a bowl full of fall. Squash, of course, is a quintessential ingredient during this season and topped with nutty walnuts, sweet hearty pears, and with some flavor from white wine, shallots, and fresh sage, it all comes together perfectly. Top it off with some salty Parmesan (or a little crumbled Gorgonzola!) and you have a gorgeous, hearty, meatless, bowl of fall-perfect pasta.
- 12 oz. cheese or butternut squash filled ravioli
- 2 Tbs. butter, divided
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1/4 cup shallots, finely diced
- 1 large pear, cored and diced
- 1/3 cup dry white wine *I used a Sauvignon Blanc
- 10-12 large sage leaves
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
- Shaved Parmesan, for serving
Cook ravioli according to package directions and drain well. Transfer ravioli to a large serving bowl.
Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan heat 1 Tbs. butter and the olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until shallots become soft and translucent (but not brown). Stir in the pears and saute for 3 minutes.
Pour the wine into the pear mixture and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and allow the wine to thicken and reduce for about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the sage leaves and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and carefully pour mixture over the ravioli.
Top the pasta with chopped walnuts and Parmesan (to taste). Serve immediately.