Ravioli are a type of filled pasta composed of a filling sealed between two layers of thin pasta dough. The word ravioli is reminiscent of the Italianverb riavvolgere (“to wrap”), though the two words are not historically connected. The word may also be a diminutive of Italian dialectal rava, or turnip.
The history of ravioli is an interesting tale. So far as Italy is concerned, the earliest records of ravioli appear in the preserved letters of Francesco di Marco, a merchant of Prato in the 14th century. The pasta is described as being stuffed with pork, eggs, cheese, parsley and sugar, and during Lent a filling of herbs, cheese, and spices was used. There were both sweet and savory kinds. The city of Cremona claims to have created ravioli. But Genoa claims that too, insisting that the word ravioli comes from their dialect word for pasta, rabiole, which means “something of little value” and referred to the practice of poor sailors who suffered left overs into pasta to be eaten for another meal.
In 14th century England Ravioli appears in the Anglo-Norman manuscript Forme of Cury under the name of Rauioles. In Malta Raviul dating back before the North Italian ravioli, are stuffed with ricotta from the local sheep.
Here’s our version of Home-Made Ravioli Pasta with suggestions for fillings and accompanying sauces.
400g Plain Soft Flour
How to make the Ravioli Dough
- Start by putting the flour in a heaped pile on the table or pasta board (spianatoia).
- Break the eggs into the ‘volcano’ of flour. Add a pinch of salt.
- Use a spoon or fork to lightly beat the eggs in the middle before slowly bringing the flour into the mixture.
- Once the mixture is not too sticky work it with your hands. Knead well for at least 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and suppliant.
- Set the dough aside for half an hour and get your filling ready.
- After the dough is ‘rested’ divide into two halves and roll each out as thin as possible, 1mm thin if possible. If you have a pasta machine then you’ll find it much easier to get the required thinness. Remember to pass the dough through at one thickness then gradually reduce the size and pass it through again.
- Whether you decide to roll a circle (comes more naturally as a circle if hand rolled) or a more square shape then do both pieces the same shape.
- Put a small dollop of filling at even intervals over the dough (see pictures). Smooth a little water between the dollops of filling.
- Once completed lay the second half of pasta over the top and gently press between the mounds of filling. With a pastry cutter cut round the mounds to make the ravioli squares. Seal the edges with a fork.
- An alternative method to using two pieces, one on top of the other, is to place the fillings in one half of the circle or other shape and then fold the other half over – see pictures.
- Cook in boiling salted water for 4 minutes. Serve hot. See below for ideas for fillings & sauces.
Spinach & Ricotta
- Cook the spinach in extra virgin olive oil and a little water with salt and pepper to taste.
- Once cooked make sure you drain out all the water.
- Chop very finely.
- Add fresh ricotta cheese, one egg beaten, a pinch of salt & pepper and a dash of nutmeg.
- Optional additional ingredients – finely chopped walnuts, grated parmesan cheese.
- Cook and mash (blend) the marrow.
- Add fresh chopped parsley, one small chopped and lightly cooked onion, a pinch of salt & pepper and a dash of nutmeg.
Optional additional ingredients – grated parmesan cheese.
Sage & Butter
- Melt a generous amount of butter in a frying pan.
- Add several fresh sage leaves.
- Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes.
- Pour over ravioli once cooked.
- Season with grated parmesan cheese and finely chopped walnuts.
Caccio e Pepe
- Grate 50g Parmesan cheese and 50g of Aged Pecorino Cheese.
- Add a generous quantity of freshly ground black pepper.
- Once the ravioli is cooked, drain it and put it in a frying pan.
- Add the cheese & pepper mix and cook for another 2 minutes until the cheese starts to melt.