Ravioli

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Ravioli are traditional Italian stuffed pasta that are generally served with a pasta sauce or in a broth. The round or square shaped pasta dough is wrapped around a filling of choice. The pasta is made with egg pasta dough that is also used for making other types of pasta. Generally eaten as a starter or even as a snack, there are many raviolo (singular) dishes that have savory (such as meat, seafood, mushrooms, vegetables, cheese, etc., mixed with herbs and spices) and sweet fillings. This Italian dumpling like snack can be boiled and served in a pasta sauce or even fried. In fact, there are many variations of the dish in other cuisines as well, known by different names, which are similar in their preparation to this Italian snack. Meat & Spinach Ravioli, Ravioli with Grape Tomato & Wine, Ravioli Caprese, and Fried Ravioli are a few popular ravioli dishes.

 

 

History

 

As per the records, the first mention of ravioli was made in 14th century in the writings by Francesco di Marco, a Venetian merchant. The “Libro per cuoco” manuscript has the recipe of this dish mentioned, wherein it was made with various green herbs that were blanched and minced and then mixed with fresh cheese and beaten egg. The raviolo was then simmered in broth. The herbs and spices used in this version were strong and sweet. Today’s version of this recipe is similar to this early recipe; however, it also calls for  mild herbs.

 

There are many more early mentions of the snack being served at various occasions, such as ravioli being served along with boiled chicken to the “Papal Conclave of 1549”. It is also known to have existed in England around the 14th century. There is mention of the recipe as “Rauioles”, in Forme of Cury, the Anglo-Norman vellum manuscript. Italian immigrants introduced the snack into America; wherein, “ready to eat” ravioli are available in the market, as canned pasta. Toasted versions are the most popular in the US.

 

Ravioli is believed to have originated from “riavvolgere”, an Italian word that means “to wrap”.

 

 

Ingredients Used

 

The key ingredients that go into making ravioli are pasta dough, herbed butter (with sage), meatloaf, grated parmesan, dry oregano, balsamic vinegar, eggwash (egg mixed with a little water).

 

 

Method of Preparation

 

Ravioli pasta dough (made with all-purpose flour, olive oil, egg and a little water, mixed to a rolling consistency) is rolled out in square or round shape and filled in the center with the meatloaf mixture (which is made by combining ground croutons, thyme, black pepper, chili powder, and cayenne pepper with finely chopped carrot, onion, red pepper and garlic and ground chuck and sirloin with egg), cheese, oregano and balsamic vinegar. The edges of the rolled out dough are brushed with eggwash and sealed by placing another square on top. The edges are pressed to seal them well and then boiled in salted water. These boiled ravioli can either be tossed in a pasta sauce or browned on both sides; in herbed butter (sage is added to the butter during this process). They are best eaten hot.

 

 

Popular Ravioli Recipes

 

  • Ravioli Caprese – Pasta dough is rolled out into squares and filled with a mixture of ricotta, shredded rotisserie chicken, grated parmesan, chopped fresh basil, egg, salt and pepper. The edges are sealed by placing another square on top, which are then boiled in salted water. When done, the ravioli are tossed with a mixture of olive oil, lemon zest, basil, salt and pepper. These are best eaten immediately.
  • Ravioli with Grape Tomato and Wine – This version of ravioli is made by boiling pasta and tossing it with a mixture of cooked shallots, tomatoes, wine, salt, pepper, parsley and butter.
  • Meat and Spinach Ravioli – This is another popular version of ravioli that has a filling of beef mixture (browned ground beef, spinach, grated parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, egg, salt and pepper, ground to a fine paste).

 

 

Variations

 

There are a few variations of this dish that are popular in other cuisines –

  • Indian Gujiya – A popular dish during various Indian festivals, especially during Holi, this is prepared in the same manner as ravioli; however, it has a sweet filling that is made with dry fruits and/orgrated coconut, sugar and sweet spices. The gujiya is then deep fried.
  • Indian Samosa – This is a popular snack of India that is made savory with a filling of potatoes, peas, paneer and spices and then deep fried. This snack is usually served with spicy and sweet and sour chutneys. There is a sweet samosa as well that has a filling of “khoya”, a milk product. It is prepared in the same manner as the savory version.
  • Wonton or Jiaozi is a similar snack of China. Potsticker or Peking Ravioli is another Chinese version of this snack, which is fried on the bottom and steamed on top.
  • Middle Eastern Shishbarak is a popular appetizer that has a filling of minced beef in pasta and then cooked in yogurt.

 

 

Trivia

 

“Ready to eat” ravioli last for almost 7 to 8 weeks; while the fresh ones can stay up to almost a month, depending on the filling.