Raviolo, commonly known in its plural form ravioli, is a stuffed pasta native to Italy. It can be easily distinguished by its square shape; but, some other forms like circular and semicircular can also be called ravioli. Still, it is traditionally filled with meat and/or cheese; and, it is often served in a warm broth or sauce. That’s the reason why some consider this as a dumpling.
Its earliest mention dates back to the early 14th century. It was written in the letters of a merchant in the city of Prato in Italy. And towards the middle of that century, the manuscript Libro per Cuoco offers this pasta filled with minced and blanched herbs combined with eggs beaten in fresh cheese, simmered in broth, and finally seasoned with “sweet and strong spices.” And although ravioli’s fillings vary depending on the region, it is still a stand-alone meal that is savory and comforting.
- The National Ravioli Day is celebrated every March 20.
- Based on the Guinness World Record, the longest ravioli measures 96 feet and 1 inch long. Amway Russia in St. Petersburg won the award in August 2013.
- Gino D’Acampo from Italy made 33 ravioli in 2 minutes. The record was set on July 25, 2013.
- The largest raviolo weighs 175 lbs and 4.32 oz. It was made in Malta in May 2013.
Raviolo Buying Guide
From local artisans to large supermarkets like H-E-B and Natural Grocers, ravioli are indeed scattered everywhere in the state of Texas. Nevertheless, here are some helpful things to keep in mind when you opt to buy the store-bought ones:
- You can buy frozen, ready-to-reheat ravioli in the frozen section. Beef in tomato and meat sauce, cheese, turkey & vegetable, chicken & cheese, and spinach are some of the best-selling flavors. Chef Boyardee, Lean Cuisine, Buitoni, and Healthy Choice are some of the popular brands.
- You can find the ravioli, without the sauce, in the pasta section of the store. Three cheese, ricotta & spinach, basil & cheese, and porcini mushrooms are the common stuffings.
- Check out the sodium content as most of them go heavy on this. Or better yet, opt for no-salt-added, reduced-sodium, or low-sodium, and just add salt as you normally flavor your dishes.
- If possible, go for the ones that contain organic ingredients.
- Be sure to always check out the ingredients list and pick the ones with lesser preservatives and hard to pronounce chemicals.
- Pick the ones that are completely sealed to assure that the product hasn’t been contaminated. Cans or packages that leaks, rusts, bulges, or is torn or severely dented should be discarded.
- As always, ravioli from local food vendors and artisans in farmers’ markets are better than the mass-produced ones. Here, you’ll get close to no preservatives and the ingredients are usually organic. Their products are also made in small batches and you might be able to get free samples along the way. And, don’t forget that our Texas Real Food website is home to all Texan vendors that would love to hear from you.
Raviolo Production & Farming in Texas
Traditionally, ravioli are made at home. But, they actually vary depending on the region they’re prepared. In Rome and Latium, for example, ravioli are traditionally filled with ricotta cheese, spinach, nutmeg, and black pepper. In Sardinia, it was ricotta and grated lemon rind. In the city of St. Louis in Missouri, breaded & deep-fried ravioli, or toasted ones, are popular. In Turkey, a similar dish called manti is famous for its spiced meat filling served with yogurt and paprika sauce. Likewise, a similar dish in Jewish cuisine called kreplach is made with a meat-filled egg pasta simmered in chicken soup. In India, gujiya is also popular. Meanwhile, in the United States, canned ravioli were pioneered by the Italian Army of the First World War. The products were then just popularized in the UK by Heinz and Buitoni, and in the U.S. by Chef Boyardee. Canned ravioli are usually filled with beef, chicken, processed cheese, or sausage, which are packaged with tomato, tomato-cheese, or tomato-meat sauce. But, as we know how resourceful the state of Texas can be, some ravioli can be done at home using wonton wrappers instead of pasta. Not to mention that our favorite barbecue can also be used as a filling! Nevertheless, the state is also home to a lot of artisan pasta makers. Not only do they hand-craft ravioli in a delectable way, but they also offer flavors that aren’t traditional and common. Thus, be sure to check them all out here on our website.
Pesticides, additives, and chemicals:
While packaged ravioli are more convenient to buy in stores, it might not be our best choice as most of them contain additives and chemicals for a lower cost yet fast-producing and shelf-stable products. Hence, here are some additives that we found on top brands:
- Vitamins and Minerals – Sometimes, a product is either enriched or it contains enriched ingredients. Enriching food means that the nutrients that were lost during processing, such as refinement, are added back into the product to restore its original vitamin and mineral levels. For ravioli, some vitamins and minerals include the following: vitamin b1 (thiamine mononitrate), vitamin b2 (riboflavin), vitamin b3 (niacin), iron (ferrous sulfate / ferrous lactate), and folic acid.
- Xanthan Gum – This additive is a polysaccharide that acts as a thickener and stabilizer in foods. As an emulsifier, it also keeps the ingredients from separating. Common side effects include bloatedness and flatulence when consumed past its RDA, which is 15g.
- Modified Food Starch – This additive is usually made with wheat, potato, corn, or tapioca. It acts as a binding agent, thickener, stabilizer, and preservative. This additive offers empty calories – they provide no nutritional value, yet it adds a considerable amount of carbohydrates which can promote weight gain. This ingredient should also be avoided by someone who is gluten intolerant.
- Thickening Agents – Added in the right amount, these thickening agents improve the viscosity of any food without changing its taste. Some natural thickeners include corn starch, potato starch, yellow cornmeal, wheat flour, and other flours.
- Calcium Chloride – This additive is an inorganic compound made with salt. It acts as a firming agent in food, especially in canned products. Also, it is commonly used as an electrolyte in sports beverages. Common side effects of this additive include vomiting, low blood pressure, stomach pain, and a burning mouth or throat.
- Citric Acid – This additive is a natural preservative in foods. It is a weak and organic acid that is found on citrus fruits. Thus, citric acid adds that sour or acidic taste to the product. Although it is generally classified as safe to consume, it may cause muscle cramps, weight gain, stomach pain, and convulsions.
- Rice Concentrate – In the absence of the synthetic silicon dioxide, rice concentrate has been the substitute additive. Likewise, it acts as a thickener, stabilizer, anticaking agent, and carrier for aroma and flavor. It is sometimes listed as “rice hulls” and it is the fiber and silica part of rice’s bran. Technically speaking, rice concentrate does not have any white rice. And although it is generally classified as safe to consume, it can cause itchiness and rashes to the skin.
- Potassium Chloride – This additive acts as a flavor enhancer, stabilizer or thickener, and pH control agent. It is a good salt alternative, reducing the sodium content in food products. And although it is generally classified as safe to consume, consumption of great amounts can cause throat irritation, vomiting, bloatedness, and stomach pain.
Frozen ravioli dishes usually come in microwave-safe plastic containers that are sometimes enclosed in cartons. It can also come in cans that have easy-open lids. On another note, stuffed ravioli, without the sauce, come in sealed plastic packets.
Even though ravioli is a pasta typically consumed using a fork, they are best enjoyed using a spoon. Since they’re noted for its richness, any light dish would make a great accompaniment. Fresh salads or roasted vegetables, along with a good bread will surely complement the meal.
While fresh ravioli provide better texture, it is possible to freeze homemade ones for later use. But, you have to freeze them separately before bagging them. Stacking it on top of each other, especially when they’re still soft, fresh, or wet, can damage your ravioli. Nevertheless, a homemade ravioli can last up to 6 months in the freezer. Meanwhile, freshly packed, store-bought ravioli can last for several weeks in the counter while frozen, ready to reheat ravioli should be kept in its package and stored in the freezer, where it could last for up to 1 ½ year.
Make your own Ravioli, Texas-style!
Do you have some leftover barbecue from that famous smokehouse? Great! With a little creativity and a piece of determination, our love for barbecue can also be turned into an ingenious food! Below is an easy recipe for barbecue ravioli that is made using wonton wrappers instead of fresh pasta. After all, no one said raviolis can only be made Italian-style, right?
Yield: 72-75 pcs
- 4 ½ cups barbecue sauce
- 3 tbsp whiskey or apple juice
- 2 tsp hot sauce
- 1 ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 3 16-oz cans shredded pork barbecue
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 9 green onions, chopped
- 75 pcs wonton wrappers
- Boil and simmer the first four ingredients in a saucepan. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, mix shredded pork, half of the shredded cheese, and half of the green onions in a large bowl.
- Lay wonton wrappers on a tray or large chopping board. Place a teaspoonful of pork mixture on each wrapper.
- Wet the edges of the wonton wrappers with a small amount of water or egg wash. Fold the edges diagonally and press to seal.
- Boil a large pot of water or broth. Add the filled wonton wrappers in batches and cook until the ravioli are tender, about 8-10 minutes.
- Transfer the cooked ravioli in a shallow plate and top with sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and green onions. Serve and enjoy!
- If you want a square ravioli, skip number 4. Instead, top the filled wonton wrappers with another wonton wrapper. Wet the edges and press.