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Traditional Italian Ravioli

By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:

In these strange days, I find myself staying at home in Florence. Everything is closed due to the virus emergency. I'm trying to make the best of it. I have time to cook, make pasta, and write, so I am going to continue our journey into the delicacy of filled pasta. Today it is ravioli—that easy-to-make stuffed pasta that is loved in every region of Italy!

Statue of Francesco Datini in Prato

One of the earliest mentions of this pasta is in a recipe from a personal letter by the Tuscan Francesco Datini, an international merchant and banker who did a lot for Florence during the fourteenth century. The recipe consisted of chopped blanched green herbs, fresh cheese, and a beaten egg, then simmered in broth. Modern recipes are quite similar.

Traditionally, ravioli is made at home, with egg pasta filled with minced herbs such as spinach, sheep ricotta, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. It is good with every sauce. We even like it with only butter and sage.

The most famous ravioli in my country is Tortelli Maremmani. Tortelli is the name of ravioli in Maremma, the wild side of southern Tuscany where the ravioli is bigger and so delicious!

Here is the recipe!

Tortelli Maremmani

Serves 4

For the dough:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 Tbs semolina + more for dusting

A pinch of salt

3 fresh eggs

For the filling:

8 oz (200 g) spinach

8 oz (200 g) fresh sheep Ricotta

2 Tbs grated Parmesan

A pinch of nutmeg

Salt and Pepper


4 Tbs butter

Sage leaves

Place the flour on a table or cutting board and make a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well of flour. Add the pinch of salt.

Mix the eggs with a fork and gradually incorporate the flour until it forms a dough. Knead until a smooth and form into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic film and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough until it is thin enough to see the outline of your hand through it. Cut the dough in half.

Lay the first dough one length on a floured work surface and set the other half to one side on a lightly semolina-dusted work surface, covered with a clean damp towel.

Either sauté or blanch the spinach. If blanched, squeeze out the extra moisture. Mince the spinach.

In a bowl, mix the sheep ricotta and spinach. Add a pinch of nutmeg, salt, pepper, and Parmesan.

Put the sage and butter into a saucepan large enough to hold all the ravioli once cooked. Place over low heat until the butter melts. Simmer gently, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Place teaspoonfuls of the ricotta mixture at even intervals along the middle of the pasta sheet. Take the other half sheet of pasta and carefully lay it over the ricotta mix, gently pressing down with wet fingers to seal the ravioli around the mounds of filling, pushing out any air pockets.

Using a sharp knife, trim the pasta into squares of ravioli and seal the border again with wet fingers. Lay each ravioli on a tray and dust with a little flour.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Gently slip the ravioli into the water and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the sage/butter sauce. Gently stir to combine.

Serve immediately with a little more Parmesan and black pepper.


Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup, Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), and Superfoods, Ippo is currently finishing her latest work, The Lords of Florence (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).

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