Pumpkin ravioli tossed in a savory sausage cream sauce and topped with Pecorino cheese is a dish that will transport you to the Umbrian region of Italy. For centuries the town of Norcia, in the mountains of southeastern Umbria has been famous for its pork, black truffles, sausage and salumi.
Pasta alla Norcina is a traditional Italian pasta dish that is usually made with short pasta such as rigatoni or penne, crumbled Norcia sausage, onions, white wine, cream, and pecorino cheese. Often it is topped with a grating of the region’s famous black truffles. While you can serve the sausage cream sauce on just about any type of pasta, I thought the savoriness of the sausage went extremely well with the sweet taste of pumpkin stuffed ravioli. While not a colorful dish, this hearty and delicious pasta is true Italian comfort food and I think you will be pleasantly surprised how very easy it is to prepare. If you live in a large cosmopolitan city, you may be able to find Norcia sausage but if not use mild or hot Italian sausage.
Pumpkin Ravioli Alla Norcina
Recipe serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a first course
- 1 or 2 Italian sausage links (depending on size), casings removed and crumbled
- 2 Tbsp, olive oil
- 1 small onion (1/2 c.), chopped fine
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 c. white wine
- 1 c. cream
- 1 – 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage leaves (about 4 to 6 leaves)), or to taste
- 1 package (about 8 – 10 oz.) fresh pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli (about 16 pieces)
- salt and pepper to taste
- grated Pecorino Romano cheese to taste
- fried sage leaves for garnish, optional
Remove the meat from the sausage casings and crumble into small pieces. Using a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the crumbled sausage and cook, breaking it up into small pieces until no longer pink and starting to turn brown. Push the sausage to the edge of the pan. If the center of the pan is dry, add the olive oil (this depends on the amount of fat in the sausage). Add the onion and cook until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add white wine and simmer a few minutes until the wine has reduced by half. Pour in the cream, add the chopped sage and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the ravioli according to package directions until al dente. Using a skimmer, place the ravioli in the pan with the sausage cream sauce. Gently toss the pasta to evenly coat it with sauce. Add a little pasta water if the sauce is too thick, remembering that the sauce will thicken and the pasta will absorb most of it as it cools. Plate the ravioli, add a generous dusting of grated pecorino, some freshly ground black pepper and garnish with a fried sage leaf.
Italians have known tha fresh pungent sage leaves change to a subtle crispy goodness when fried in butter or olive oil and use them in many of their famous food preparations. They make a nice garnish for this pasta dish.
Fried sage leaves for a garnish can be prepared by melting a little butter over low heat. Once butter has melted, add the sage leaves and cook until the butter stops foaming and the leaves are crispy. Remove the pan from the heat to stop the cooking and place the leaves on paper towel..
In Umbria, pasta alla Norcina is made with Norcia sausages and often uses black truffles. While delicious, these ingredients are hard to find and your favorite Italian sausage will be perfect in this recipe.Notes From The Kitchen
Pumpkin ravioli alla Norcina is comfort food at its best. Quick and easy to prepare, it is perfect at this busy time of the year. The savory sausage cream sauce and the slightly sweet pumpkin ravioli are a great combination. Serve the flavorful ravioli with a simple green salad and a glass of crisp white wine such as Grechetto or a Montefalco Rosso, a blend of Sangiovese and Sagrantino work well with richness of the ravioli. I hope you enjoy this pasta reminiscent of some of the tastes of Umbria.