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Cookie crumbs put pork, pear pasta over the top

Thanks to the past decade’s bacon craze in culinary circles nationwide, there’s almost no food that hasn’t been its companion.

A salad I enjoyed for lunch at Medford’s Common Block Brewing Company last week was no exception, mingling bacon with brassicas, blue cheese and fresh pear. It’s true that the sweet-salty-savory combination is delicious in so many dishes, including this pasta, adapted by Tribune News Service from "Pasta Modern" by Francine Segan.

Sausage doubles pork’s presence in the dish while golden raisins contribute more sweetness. It puts me in mind of my family’s favorite Sicilian-style meatballs with either golden raisins or currants, seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg.

A garnish of crushed amaretti cookies tells you this dish isn’t everyday fare, but a bit festive, with flavors meant to elevate pasta beyond ordinary noodles.

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, peeled and 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 two of ground cinnamon, to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Minced fresh parsley, to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 or 3 amaretti cookies, crushed

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, for about 5 minutes. Remove the sausage from its casing and crumble it into pan; cook until browned. Add the beef (if using), 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 sauce with a few tablespoons cooking liquid. Stir well and cook, adding more cooking liquid if needed, until pasta is al dente.

Stir in the lemon zest and season with the grated cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg and parsley to taste. Season with the salt and pepper.

Serve pasta topped with a sprinkling of the amaretti crumbs.

Makes 4 servings.

Tribune News Service photo