Ravioli: the recipe of the kings of stuffed pasta

Ravioli are one of the types of Italian fresh stuffed pasta: it is, in fact, a pasta that involves the preparation of a very thin sheet, and then that is cut into small squares to wrap the filling. They are known and widespread in many parts of the world and there are many variations such as baozi, Chinese ravioli. There is also the sweet version of ravioli with ricotta cheese and sugar, sprinkle with icing sugar.


Ravioli are the kings of stuffed pasta but they change their name from region to region and from shape to shape: in Piedmont and in the Pavia area they are reduced in size and are called agnolotti (or agnellotti); in Lombardy, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna they are called tortelli (or tortellini) and their shape looks more a cap; in Liguria they are called pansotti; in the Piacenza area they are called anolini while in the Ferrara area cappellacci.


Everybody likes ravioli, making all agree, from north to south, from east to west, from taste to taste. There are four possible fillings for this type of pasta: meat, vegetables, fish or cheese. Clearly, for each of the fillings there is a different procedure, also based on the sauce that you want to combine.


This is the secret of the raviolo: the love for a stuffed pasta that, although the transformations the evolutions and the different versions, remains an immortal culinary specialty. But let’s discover the story together.


Ravioli: a bit of history


At the time of the ancient Romans there was already a kind of ravioli: it is in fact the so-called Apicius pie, the patinam apicianam sic facies.


About the name there are many conflicting opinions. In fact, from the interpretation of medieval texts the term raviolo could have been a synonym of tortello, precisely an egg-shaped filling wrapped in pasta cooked in broth or fat. Moreover, others claim that the name takes its origin from the word “rabiola”, that was a small turnip. For other people it comes from the word “rovigliolo”, a tangle understood as a filling. Although we have not clear sources that could confirm us one of the previous versions, there is the most accreditated theory that claims that the first raviolo was conceived in Gavi Ligure at the time of the Republic of Genoa by a certain cook Ravioli, a name still existing in the area. After all, the ravioli are the only stuffed pastas known in the 12th and 13th centuries.


Also, it is reported in a written way on a contract of the end of 1100 on Paesaggio agrario in Liguria: it is in fact a colonist from Savona who undertakes to provide the owner with a meal for three people consisting of bread, wine, meat and ravioli, during the harvest period. In 1200 the ravioli started spreading in Genoa, also thanks to the trade exchanges of the fairs. Consequently, the raviolo then reaches Parma at the end of the century according to what is reported in the chronicle text of Fra Salimbene. In the mid-fourteenth century, moreover, the great writer and poet Boccaccio included the ravioli in The Decameron, in the third story of the eighth day, describing him among the delicacies of the land of Cuccagna (Cockaigne): “… he was a people who did nothing but make macaroni and ravioli and cook them in capon broth … “.


Certainly, the most common ingredients for the preparation of ravioli are ricotta, spinach and nutmeg. Let’s find out the recipe together.


Ravioli – The Recipe




For the pasta:


400 grams of 00 flour

4 medium eggs

A big  pinch of salt


For the filling:

500 g ricotta cheese

100 g spinach

40 g parmesan

Nut meg (as you prefer)




For the sauce:


50 g butter

3 or 4 sage leaves


Preparing time 45 min

Cooking time 10 min

Serves 4



First of all, put the flour in a pyramid shape and make a hole in the centre. Add a pinch of salt and put the eggs in the middle.  Work the eggs with a fork and add the flour slowly. Once the ingredients are blended, knead the dough for 10 minutes. If the dough is very compact cover it with clean film and leave it in the fridge for 1 hour; if the dough is soft you can plane it to make a thin strip with the rolling pin.


Meanwhile, take care of the preparation the filling: clean and wash the spinach. Then cook them for a few minutes with the only water, then drain them, squeeze them well between the hands, then chop finely with the knife.


Now, pour them into a bowl and add the ricotta cheese, parmesan, nutmeg as you like, salt and pepper to the spinach. Mix everything carefully until the mixture is smooth and homogeneous.


At the end of the operation, divide the strip and, then, arrange on the long side of the strip small heaps of ricotta and spinach (you can help yourself with a teaspoon). Place them at a distance of 4 centimeters from each other.


As soon as you have finished the strip of pasta in order to lay the filling, proceed to fold the strip of free dough, so as to cover the stuffing balls well. At this point, press your fingers around the filling so as to let the air escape and seal your ricotta and spinach ravioli well. Then cut the ravioli with the toothed wheel and, as they are ready, place them on a floured cloth.


Once the cropping operation is over, place a saucepan with plenty of salted water (you can add a drizzle of oil to the boiling water so that the ravioli does not stick), dip the ravioli and cook for a few minutes, until they reach cooking (ravioli with spinach and ricotta will be cooked when they rise to the surface). Finally take your ravioli with the aid of a slotted spoon and season with the butter and the sage leaves.


Enjoy your homemade ravioli with butter and sage!


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