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Pear and Pecorino Ravioli

Karen’s parents both fell two weeks ago.

One resulted in a likely cracked rib. 

The other resulted in a coma. 

Karen’s parents aren’t old. They shouldn’t be falling.

Long divorced, to learn on the same day that they had fallen, was eerie. And heartbreaking. 

Standing alongside your wife, as she tries to keep tabs on her mother, who assures us she’ll be OK even though we know there’s more pain than she’s really letting on...while she’s dealing with nurses and doctors and relatives and lawyers and accountants and’s a maddening feeling, my not being able to fix this. 

But there may be little left of her dad to fix.

He should be, the doctors and nurses say, he should be coming off the ventilator. His body doesn’t agree. There is bleeding in his brain. And there is swelling. And there is pneumonia. And heart failure came along like a dirty little bastard because his body simply didn’t have enough to deal with.

He went into the hospital talking. About falling down the stairs. About the neighbor who found him. About his two daughters.

And that was it.

That was all he said.

And then he was in a coma.

Best case, the doctors say, is that he will have extremely limited verbal and physical ability. 

Best case.

“He won’t be the same person he was if he wakes up.”


We were ready to rally. We know how to quickly mobilize and solve shit. That is what we do.

But her dad’s body is simply unable to rally, to gain traction on something, to pull him out of his state of somewhere else. 

And so we all wait. 


And since there is no way to solve this one, no way to fix this...we cook.

We need busy hands. Kids and a job fill most of that need. But at night while we’re talking about what comes next, I cook. Anything she wants.

Ravioli. Pecorino and pear. With fresh pasta, made in our kitchen for the first time. Perfect the technique. Make it great. Make it better than what we had in Florence. Remind ourselves of easier times, when we came home pregnant with our son.

Fresh, tender pasta. Grated pears, a gift from the Pear Bureau/USA Pears that was sitting in the corner of our kitchen, ignored too long, these beautiful pears waiting for us to use them, just hours before they overripened. A salty bite of the Pecorino. Melted butter. Sea salt. Fresh black pepper.

The simplest, most wonderful pasta from Domenica Marchetti. Everything for the dough into the food processor. A few spins of the blade. On to the counter for some kneading. Rest. A turn of the crank on the pasta roller.  A turn and a turn and a turn. Long yellow ribbons furling on top of themselves. Endless.

A small tablespoon of pear and pecorino filling with a little egg to hold it all together.

A ribbon of pasta on top. A wine glass to cut the ravioli.

Two and a half minutes in boiling water.

On the plate. The butter. The salt. The pepper.

Settle down on the couch with some wine and pasta. And then off to bed.

And so it goes. Waiting for the thing that comes next, not knowing when it will come or what it will be.

There’s an expectation of food, good food, that it can heal your soul. 

It can’t. Not this time. 

But good food, this perfect pasta, the pears, the Pecornio, it can fill you up.

And sometimes that’s enough.

Recipe | Pear and Pecorino Ravioli
  • Fresh egg pasta
    We love and will always use this fresh egg pasta dough recipe from the inimitable Domenica Marchetti. Follow her food processor instructions for the easiest pasta dough you’ve ever made. You do need a pasta roller for this. Don’t feel bad if you buy your pasta sheets premade. You have other things to worry about.

  • Pecorino & Pear Filling
    Loose instructions. Please improvise. We made twelve ravioli, so adjust the proportions accordingly for your needs.

    Mix the following together in a bowl to use as filling:
    • One large or two medium pears, exceedingly ripe, peeled and grated coarsley 
    • A pile of freshly grated Pecorino Romano, from a ½ pound block of cheese
    • An egg
  • Assembling the Ravioli 
    If you’d like a primer on making ravioli, Marc at No Recipes does a great job of explaining it in his Shitake and Arugula Ravioli post
  • Cooking the Ravioli
    In a large, wide pot of salted boiling water, drop in a scrap of pasta dough. At 2.5 minutes, test it to see if it’s done. Adjust your cooking time for the ravioli accordingly.

  • Serve topped with a little melted butter, a sprinkling of sea salt, and cracked pepper. 


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Reader Comments (29)

oh goodness. ya'll...i'm so sorry. saying "i know how you feel" when it comes to unexpected illnesses and the sudden threat of loss doesn't help necessarily...but i've been there with my mom. i can do is say to you that i'm thinking of both of you and your family...and if there is *anything* (and I mean *anything*) I can do here for ya'll...please let me know. hugs to both of you. xoxo

- t*

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertami

You all are in my thoughts. I can't imagine how you're getting through this, but I'm sure busy hands help.

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie @ poet in the pantry

My heart and prayers go out to your family...and I agree. When I'm nervous, anxious, stressed...I cook. I don't really bake. I don't want to think about much, so cook just comes naturally.... Love this pasta.

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarnely Rodriguez

I am so sorry for everything you are going through. Lots of prayers going your way. These are great ravioli.....I have a box of pears too and will try to make these soon. Hugs!

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJersey Girl Cooks

Guys, & kiddos
I am so sorry you are going through these events with your too young to be experiencing , parents. A startling reminder of just how fragile life is and at this time of year fills us with an overwhelming and jarring effect. Hence the beautiful and comforting food you prepared, tasted and were comforted. Life is short.

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmyRuth

The ravioli sound amazing. I am amazed you found the time and will to write this post.

I'm so sorry to hear about all this. #8secondhugs all around.

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenniferA

Damn it. I can only attempt to understand Karen's state of mind. Only yesterday I was thinking what I would do if both of my parents (also divorced) were in the hospital at the same time. And then I read this.

Odd how comforting pears can be. And cheese.

Wishing you all the best possible outcome,


December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Procopio

There is the expectation that food can heal the soul. Sometimes nothing can. Karen is lucky though, to have you, who seems like a good soul, who understands that in times like these, food, company and waiting are all you can do. Thoughts are with you guys.

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

So much love to you guys. What a year 2011 has been. Wishing you moments of comfort and peace in the weeks to come. <3

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSunny

I dearly wish I could hug both of you, but instead I send a big hug over the internet. I hope you feel it. Life is a bitch, isn't it? Only hoping something can give you comfort in the long run. In the short run, bravo to you for attempting to recreate the joyous food of a past vacation.

[PS, the redesigned/revamped site is gorgeous.]

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteremily | nomnivorous

I really hope that your dad makes it out of the coma. I'm so sad for you guys dealing with this. It sounds so scary. Do what you do best and stay busy cooking, it's time to make great memories over food while thinking of memories. Food has a special way of doing that.
big hugs!

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternicole @ I am a Honey Bee

Other than "this ravioli looks amazing", I wish I knew what to say. But I don't. I miss you guys, and I'm so sorry you're dealing with this situation. Sending you hugs.

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWinnie

This ravioli is sure a creative one and I am amazed that pear can be one of the ingredients. Looks so tempting to me.

December 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNava Krishnan

Sigh. My heart aches for you both. I know this feeling of helplessness and how you try to "fix it" but can't. Sometimes cooking helps, sometimes it's the furthest thing from your mind. Do what feels best in the moment. The ravioli sound lovely and I'm going to try the food processor method the next time I make pasta. Hang in there!

December 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristina

I hate that this happened. I can completely relate, having just been through an eerily similar experience with my own father -- fall, head bleed, another fall, ventilator. It's the scariest thing ever, and the complete and utter helplessness that you feel is the worst. The body is such a fragile thing.

Feel free to reach out if I can be of any help. If nothing else, I know what you both are feeling. I've been there. Still am.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermerry jennifer

dear god, i wish i could say i don't know how you feel . . . but i do . . . i wish i could say that i can't imagine how hard it is to wait . . . but i do . . . i wish i could say that i don't know what a 'suspended' life feels like . . . but i do . . . and i wish i could say that sobbing until you are nothing more than a ragged heap on the floor helps . . . but i can't . . . and even though i wish with all my heart to the heavens above i could say, 'it's going to be ok' . . . i can't say that either . . . BUT what i can say is that i hear you. i see you. i understand every. single. emotion. you feel right now. and as your friend, i stand alongside to help buffer whatever storm comes along, in whatever way you need. simply ask. raise the white flag. holding you guys close.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSMITH BITES

God, I am so sorry. Thinking of you both. Sending you strength, love, patience, hope. All of it. One good thing, Karen has you. And that will get her through everything.

If I can do anything - call, text, email, send up flairs, make smoke signals, whatever. You are surrounded by people who give a shit.

xo Kim

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim Foster

Sending you both love and hugs. Not sure what else to say but I am thinking of you and sending good and healing vibes XOX

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered

I am so sorry that this happened, and just when you finally sold your house and were all happy. My heart goes out to you both.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Oh words. I remember when my stepfather passed, and then just a mere 10 months later my father was in the hospital and never came out. I remember Jason just being there for me......picking up the slack where I needed him to. Our life continuing as it needed to, life didn't stop.
Knowing you are there for her to do that is probably just what she needs. The simple act of making this meal for her is just what she needs. She is blessed to have you.

Sending healing thoughts to you and yours....and hugs, great big long ones.


December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTania @Lovebigbakeoften

I am so sorry to hear about Karen's parents. I've been in her shoes and know how devastating this is. Sending you both as many warm wishes and healing vibes as possible.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCooks_Books

Sending as much love and positive thoughts your way as possible. :(

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCathy @ Savory Notes

So sorry to hear this. I was reading the post, curious to see how pear works with pasta and read what's happening. You don't know me, but I follow your tweets. My heart goes out to your family. I will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth @Mango_Queen

I am so sorry this happened, especially since I know what you all are going through. My father fell 6 yrs ago in December. He was in a severe coma for 6 weeks and has been mentally incapacitated and on a ventilator since then. The kicker - he himself was a physician who worked in physical rehab and was only 60. I still remember a lot of the feelings of why and what now and he'll be fine if he can just do this by this day. It's heartbreak over and over again. My heart truly goes out to you all. Even though I have never met either of you in person, I am here if you need it.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercvarkey

I'm feeling for you!

My brother had a stroke a few years back (34 yo) and it shocked us to no end. He's almost back to 'normal'. But what a shock..........sending love your way!

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRo

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