Italian restaurants have been serving up delicious hand crafted ravioli for centuries, but who was the first to come up with the idea of placing a tasty stuffing within two thin layers of pasta?
No one can say for sure when the first ravioli appeared, but mentions of similar treats can be found in literature from as far back as the 14th century. One theory of how the dish first came about involves the idea that the dish was likely inspired by a recipe for a much larger dish made of meat, vegetables, spices, and grains which was used a pie shell as a sort of pot, not to be eaten but just to cook the contents. This dish was known as a “torta”. By taking the idea of a torta and reducing it down into bite sized pieces we get what we today know as ravioli.
A second theory related to the invention of the ravioli is that the dish was first invented by Genovesi sailors who would wrap the leftover portions of their meals within a dough pocket in order to add some additional variety to the typical sailor’s diet.
The Many Styles of Ravioli
However the ravioli first came into being, the dish has grown greatly popular and as diverse as the country itself with many of the different regions of Italy having their own particular take on the dish. To show the scope of how widely the dish can be interpreted, here are just a few variations:
- “Agnolotti”, from the northern regions which is traditionally filled with beef, ham, spinach, and egg, and served with a beef gravy.
- “Cappelletti”, from Romagna which is filled with a choice of meat and Parmesan cheese and then served in chicken broth.
- “Pansotti”, made from larger circles of pasta and willed with ricotta, Parmesan, endive, turnip and garlic, and served with a sauce made with walnut, milk and bread.