Italy has so many pasta shapes it’s almost impossible to name them all. At The International Kitchen we love pretty much all of them, and have had the chance to make them from scratch many times during our cooking classes in Italy. Did you know that each region of Italy has its own distinctive pasta shapes and dishes? And yet there are also classic stuffed pasta shapes that you’ll find throughout Italy.
Here is a brief primer focussing on stuffed pastas to help you out.
(Or skip to a list of stuffed pasta recipes from our archives.)
Life is a combination of magic and pasta.
– Federico Fellini
Types of Stuffed Pastas
Ravioli – this is the most well-known stuffed pasta. The singular form is “raviolo” and they are usually made by putting the filling between two sheets of pasta (versus using one piece of pasta and folding it over). The most traditional filling is cheese-based, and it varies in its specifics from region to region. They can be round or square, or (more rarely) a “mezzaluna” shape. Although you can find them in all regions, we love the ravioli Chef Matia makes at our Antinori’s Noble Tuscany cooking vacation!
Agnolotti – this is a type of raviolo, but made most frequently from a single piece of pasta folded over and sealed to form a rectangle. The filling is usually meat and vegetable based.
Cappelletti – this type of stuffed pasta literally means “little hats,” and refers to their shape, which resembles a hat. They are formed from one piece of dough, filled, folded over, and the ends pinched together. They can be found stuffed with a meat or a cheese filling. One traditional (and delicious) way of serving them is in broth. You can try your hand at it during our Flavors of the Real Italian Countryside cooking vacation, where they also prepare an excellent parmigiano cheese that pairs perfectly.
Tortellini – very much like cappelletti, they are distinguishable by their shape (a “ring” shape in this case) and can be filled with meat or cheese. One classic preparation is “in brodo,” or served in a rich meat broth, which you can try during our Living the Real Tuscan Dream culinary vacation. Another is with a traditional Bolognese meat sauce.
Tortelloni – these are basically large tortellini (“-one/-oni” is an aggrandizing suffix in Italian). The fillings can vary, but they are less often filled with meat and more often with cheese and vegetables such as spinach or mushroom. They are not often served in broth, but usually with a tomato-based meat sauce or a butter and sage sauce.
Stuffed Pasta Recipes from our Travels in Italy
If you’re looking to make some wonderful stuffed pasta recipes at home, check out these favorites:
- Homemade Ravioli – the classic preparation with ricotta and spinach
- Tortelli alla Mantovana – pumpkin ravioli
- Tortellini – straight from Emilia Romagna
- Tortelli Lucchesi – delicious meat ravioli served with a meat ragú
By Peg Kern
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