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Potato Raviolis

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Italian comfort food on steroids. Only Italians love pasta enough to stuff it with such plain ingredients as a potatoes. Right they are, these make for a highly refined dish - and very affordable.

Outside Italy homemade pasta is associated with the rarefied atmosphere of expensive gastronomic restaurants. This applies especially to stuffed pasta (ripieni) which most people think is only eatable with a lobster and caviar stuffing. But in Italy many people do pasta at home and they use very humble ingredients to very good effect, like for instance beans pasta. This week I'll show you how to make a simple and very popular dish - potato-stuffed raviolis. This is a very popular family recipe in the North of Italy, comfort food on steroids if you will. Please consider that Italians love their pasta so much that they give them hundreds of love names - babytalking in the kitchen is what it is. So you'll find these as raviolis or tortellis or agnolottis depending on the region or restaurant.

Start by preparing one egg's worth of pasta dough per guest. How much flour will depend on the size of your eggs and the relative humidity in your kitchen that day, but as a rule of thumb for 70gr eggs (2 oz) I use about 100gr (3 oz) of flour. Mix flour and eggs either by hand in a small volcano or using a big-ass kitchen mixer like on the picture.

Knead for about 10 minutes, then roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic foil and store in a cool place for about one hour.

Meanwhile, let's prepare our stuffing. Boil 2 large potatoes or 4 small potatoes per guest until cooked through. Use starchy potatoes if you can.

Finely dice a small onion for each two guests and fry it in a little butter in a hot pan until soft.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, then when the onion is soft, add to the pot.

drop a tablespoon of tomato concentrate or just enough to give a rosy color to your potatoes ...

... and mash them to a pulp.

Add just enough cream or milk to get a smooth but not too runny mixture.

Add as much grated Parmesan as you like - for me that means a lot, but some people will only use a tablespoon. Just add some, taste and add more if needed. You can grate the rest on the finished tortellis.

Next page you'll see how to stretch the dough and shape the raviolis/tortellis!

Our stuffing is ready and our dough rested. Take an apricot-sized piece of dough and stretch it with the pasta machine or using a rolling pin on a lightly floured table. Stretch until really thin, the one-before-last setting on the machine.

Lights, ready to roll ...

... and action! Place a rectangular piece of pasta on a lightly floured clean cotton cloth. This setup ensures your pasta will not stick, but don't be overly exuberant with the flour as it might make unsightly white patches on the finished raviolis. Using your fingernail if you are a lady, or a dull knife if a man, very lightly trace parallel lines on half your pasta sheet, then trace more lines crosswise to outline little squares. Now imagine a little bird playing hopscotch on this imaginary chessboard, and pooping the exact same quantity of stuffing on every square it passes. Continue until you have covered your pasta sheet with little pieces of stuffing at regular intervals. The exact quantity required depends on the size of your squares. Err on the side of too little otherwise you won't be able to close the raviolis.

Fold the free part of the pasta sheet over the one your little bird covered with stuffing and gently press with your fingers to outline the raviolis. Using a pastry roller, carefully cut strips of raviolis one by one ...

... then cut crosswise to detach each ravioli. I bought this cool ravioli cutter in Cremona, Italy, but you can find similar ones on Ebay for pennies or in pastry supply aisles in many supermarkets. Make sure the cutter does not only cut but also pressed the edges to seal them, otherwise you'll have a leak.

You can use the cutouts in a soup or prepare some pasta for the next day and call it maltagliati (illcuts).

Leave the raviolis on a drying rack or just a plain clean, dry, lightly floured cotton towel until ready to cook.

Fill your largest pot with water, add a bit of salt and bring to a boil. When the water boils like the waters of Lake Lucerne in the first Act of Rossini's William Tell, drop your raviolis all at the same time. Make sure to dust all the flour off before doing so.

They should cook in under 2 minutes.

As soon as the pasta is almost cooked through - that means before it is actually fully cooked - fish them out using a sieve. Please do not pour the whole pot into some strainer like some illiterate Swiss German mama or you'll ruin your work and the raviolis will split open. Instead, do this gently with a sieve or spider like a literate Swiss german mama.

That's it - Italian refinement with the most basic ingredients. The triumph of work, human genius and artistry over universal entropy. You just made the most delicate pasta using plain potatoes and flour.

Congratulate yourself on a job well done and eat as many raviolis as you can before other people in the house realize what they are missing.



  • #1
  • Comment by Catherine
FX, these look delicious. They remind me that I need to try making pasta one of these days!

Do you think they would freeze well? When I make Russian pelmenyi, which are similar to ravioli, I always make a lot and then freeze some so that I can keep eating them for a few days.
I did Ravioli today, too. Mine look not so perfect as yours. :-(
There are so many reasons I love your food porn.  The crispness and sharpness of the images, the succulence of the food.

I had to laugh when I read your desription about how Italians include "such plain ingredients to stuff pasta" - but you could not be more correct.  One of my favorite indulgences is potato gnocchi which I now make on a whim.  Your gorgeous step by step photo instructions definitely have me wondering about the beautiful potato ravioli.

A while back, my BF said, "Oh, you Italians, my heart bleeds for you."  This of course got him a sideways look from me.  "Oh?" I said, awaiting the explanation.  "Yes.  You're so poor that you have to take cheap ingredients and make THIS wonderful dish or THAT incredible dish...I'm sure it was a difficult existence."  I understood the compliment after I peeled away the sarcasm :D.  He's so right.  If my mother couldn't make a feast out of $3, my brother and I would have lived a miserable existence growing up but luckily, she had many culinary tricks up her sleeves.  

My brother and I try every day to live up to that rich legacy of making a bounty out of nothing and culinary memories based on simple ingredients and fuss-free techniques.  

Thanks for all the work you put into this site.  It never ceases to amaze me.
  • #4
  • Comment by Colin Gore

What a delightful allusion to bird-poop hopscotch.  Have you ever heard of cow-drop bingo?

Those raviolis look absolutely gorgeous! Really perfect, beautiful and delicious! Bravo!


  • #6
  • Comment by Meramarina
These look delectable.  I love comfort food, even when I'm already pretty comfortable. These remind me of my Polish grandmama's potato pierogis, although she did not cook with much refinement.  Hers were roundish dough pouches boiled all day, leaving no flavor in the food except for onion and cigarette smoke.  I will not be continuing this tradition!  I think I need a pasta machine now.  Thanks for the ideas!
  • #7
  • Comment by Randall
Although I love to cook, I have to admit that I come to this site to enjoy your wit as much as to learn new recipes!  Today was no exception.  Thanks fx!
I'm so very envious of your ability to make fresh pasta look so effortless.  I tried once last year.  We had high hopes and were planning to stuff ravioli with goat cheese, fig and lamb.  It was a Gong Show of the highest degree, and possibly one of the most upsetting experiences in my culinary career.

I might try again, but I'll have to study all of your pasta posts before I'm willing to bring that trauma back on myself!!
  • #9
  • Comment by Peter
That is a big-ass mixer.  I guess it does translate from the english.
Gorgeous, just gorgeous. My wife's grandmother used to make tortellini soup every Christmas. Thing is, they would call it "ravioli" soup, but it really was tortellini. Your post reminded me about that. See, Italians are very proud of their regions, but they are not complicated when it comes to food. To the family, if it is ravioli, then it is ravioli.

I love the pics by the way. One thing, the drying rack, where did you pick that up?

I am looking to do something like gnocchi soon.
  • #11
  • Comment by Barbara
loved your photo instructions. The pierogi recipe that is closest to this called for fried onions and potatoes, no cheese, but some do use cheese and potato. The wonderful chef I know who makes these lovely pillows does not boil them all day. like your homemade dough, hers took only a few minutes to cook. I may try to make some ravioli or pierogi soon.
  • #12
  • Comment by Alys
pyrogy, perogy, pierogi, pirogi, ... ravioli.  :D
Of course, made with potatoes. I am so grateful to the Incas for this.

Lovely pictures and desriptions of a wonderful comfort food. Thanks again.

My Ukrainian/Russian/Canadian relatives like to use a sharp cheddar for the cheese. Then fry them up and smother them in carmelized onions.  mmm, mmmm!
Standard variations include cottage cheese, and mushrooms. Both easy to come by on the farm.

The Village of Glendon, Alberta
has a giant Pyrogy (also spelt perogy)on a fork
Designer: Matrix Contracting Ltd. (Tapper, B.C.)
When Built: 1991
Height: 27 Feet (8.2 Metres)
Width: 12 Feet (3.7 Metres)
Weight: 6,000 Pounds (2,718 Kilograms)

We are _serious_ about stuffing dough with potatoes!
  • #13
  • Comment by Mary Sanavia
This is a wonderful,simple recipe.
If I ever entered your kitchen, I would be like a little girl in a toy store!!!! I love all your gadgets. (I have some too,but not as fancy!)

And the pictures are unbelievable.
Looks delicious and fun to make! Thank you for sharing!! :)
  • #15
  • Comment by Chef4cook
Lovely ravioli. I like doing stuffed pasta. I have made pasta with different flours however my favorite is tipo'oo'. I get a much more refined end product. How about you?
  • #16
  • Answered by fx
Thanks Juliet I'm glad you liked my little article!
  • #17
  • Answered by fx
Mary Sanavia, thanks for your appreciation. I love kitchen "gadgets" but only buy them when the function is at least as important as the form. Hate those useless, break-at-first-use, expensive-as-hell pseudo foodie gadgets. But functional metal-made kitchen tools? Anytime!
  • #18
  • Answered by fx
Alys, tell the people of Glendon that I'm coming to eat their giant pyrogy!
  • #19
  • Answered by fx
Barbara, thanks for visiting and glad you liked my italian pierogi!
  • #20
  • Answered by fx
Jason, for years I could not even look at a picture of tortellini in brodo, but now I've had them in Cremona and that's just one of the most gorgeous pasta you can have. I ordered the drying racks from http://www.daltoscano.com, it's called "Cassetta asciugapasta", article 153 in Ustensili di cucina. They cost €6.90 a piece - great investment if you do pasta at home!
  • #21
  • Answered by fx
Peter, I guess you could call it a Texas-size mixer!
  • #22
  • Answered by fx
Tina, it's good you can now laugh at this traumatic stop on your pasta-making road, but now it's time to move on and try again. To succeed is easy if you do things like I recommend. First use a little pasta machine, then use durum wheat semolina flour, and make a rather dry dough. It should certainly not stick when you place the dough ball on a plate, or it means there is not enough flour. First make some tagliatelle, these are easy to make, and when you have done that a couple times, try a couple stuffed pasta. Everybody gets a disaster when starting with stuffed pasta - keep that for a later stage. Good luck!
  • #23
  • Answered by fx
Randall, thanks for dropping by and glad you liked my little article!
  • #24
  • Answered by fx
Meramarina, I recommend you get a pasta machine, they are very durable and make pasta-making foolproof and quite enjoyable. Have fun!
  • #25
  • Answered by fx
Rosa, thanks for your appreciation, in fact I had wondered wether to even publish this article, it is quite prosaic but nice all the same.
  • #26
  • Answered by fx
Colin, I have yet to try cow-drop bingo, but can it be done in my kitchen?
  • #27
  • Answered by fx
Chiffonade, indeed I much admire the genius of Italians and many other people, including of course the Indians, who create a delicious world of rich culinary diversity using the most simple ingredients. It is very much an image of civilization to turn underground tubers into gorgeous raviolis.
  • #28
  • Answered by fx
Zorra, I ate my many imperfect raviolis before taking the pictures ...
  • #29
  • Answered by fx
Catherine, I nearly had a heart attack when reading your suggestion of freezing my raviolis, but hey, it might work after all. The thing is they take longer to make than to eat, so I never really had leftovers raviolis!
  • #30
  • Answered by fx
Chef4cook, in Switzerland I have never found any flour with the 00 on the label. They sell them by 50kg bags to bakers, sure enough, and we might have them under other names, but I can't confirm your finding based on my experience for this reason. My own favorite type of flour for pasta making is fine durum-wheat semolina, same they use to make "dried pasta" or maccheroni.
  • #31
  • Comment by Colin Gore

Cow-drop bingo could perhaps occur in your kitchen, granted you have a pygmy cow, or an outside kitchen with an acre of pasture.  

For those unfamiliar with the game, it is vaguely similar to "Bingo" in the US.  A numbered grid is marked on a field.  Players are each assigned a number.  A well-fed cow is then let to pasture, and a winner is declared when the first area of the grid is "marked" by a cow-pie, indicating the winning number.

Naturally, it is a sport for only the most refined ladies and gentlemen.

  • #32
  • Answered by fx
Colin, I have to try cow-drop bingo, this is something that could work well at some farm brunch we have around here in Switzerland! How do people mark the squares on the field? Are there some martingales you can apply to win?
  • #33
  • Comment by Amy S
Looks yummy as usual. Cannot wait to try it.  Is Tomato concentrate the same as tomato paste? If not I will have to look for the concentrate.

Thanks again.
  • #34
  • Answered by fx
Amy, tomato concentrate is tomato pasta boiled until a lot of water has evaporated. You can definitely use tomato paste dough, the idea is really to color the stuffing more than anything!
I'm so making these in a couple of weeks. I love potato and I love pasta. Pretty sure I made something similar in culinary school. It was raviolis with potato and apple. So good.
Yours are absolutely beautiful!
  • #36
  • Answered by fx
Laura if you try these potato raviolis, you will ove them, and it's really extremely economical in this time of crisis!
  • #37
  • Comment by Agnieszka
Thanks for this nice recipe + photo combo. Lovely, as usual. I have a question about a pumpkin. Can you use pumpking as ravioli stuffing, and if so, what would be essential to turn it into a delicious dish? Regards
  • FX's answer→ Agnieska, indeed you can, just look at my article #137 "Heaven is a Plate of Tortellini" for the recipe. Delicious!

  • #39
  • Comment by Brunost
Thanks for your wonderful recipes/photos.
This recipe should be tried with vitelotte potatoes, they are blue/purple and would give to this dish a nice unusual color when opening the ravioli!
  • #40
  • Comment by dorothy gleeson
amazingly, there's a load of Italian influence in the food of Poland, with the potato and quark filled raviolis as no.1. not so long ago a girl who couldn't makeher own pasta or raviolis wouldn't be regarded as fit for a marriage!
  • FX's answer→ Dororthy, amazing that these humble raviolis would be the key to marital felicity!

  • #42
  • Comment by Alex
Hi Francois!
Do you add any salt to the potato stuffing or are they salty enough because of the parmesan?
  • FX's answer→ Alex, I am not one for salt, and usually the salt in the Parmesan is enough for me, but all you need is taste and add salt as you feel is needed.

  • #44
  • Comment by mike levy
where, my friend can i find a ravioli cutter like the one in your potato raviolis post?
any help would sincerely be appreciated. i canʻt find anything like it, even on line.
we are located in san francisco ca.
p.s. you have the killerest website on earth. awesome photography and composition.
  • FX's answer→ Well thanks a lot for your kind words Mike! Ain't that a cool ravioli cutter I got myself? Unfortunately this came from Italy and I wouldn't know a source in the US to get just the same. HOWEVER you can certainly great tools with just as much soul as this one on Ebay, looking up keywords such as "pastry roller wheel dough" and "antique vintage classic" with some variation. What I use is only a pastry roller, sure it looks nice but they are common tools and Ebay always lists dozens at any given time. Happy hunting!

  • #46
  • Comment by roger
Of course the Slavs all have dough wrapped potato, but for comfort, it's the kasha, roasted buckwheat, filling for me. With chopped fresh dill in the wrappers (a la Galicia), and fried onions (especially in chicken fat) on top, I can almost speak Yiddish.
  • #47
  • Comment by Evangelina
Me han encantado tus recetas y mañana haremos mi esposo y yo la sopa minestrone, pero tambien muy pronto me animare a hacer los raviolis rellenos de papa que se ve quedan exquisitos. Espero no sea muy dificil lograr la textura correcta de la pasta porque es la primera vez que haria mi propia pasta.  Gracias por compartir en forma tan generosa tus recetas y tantas fotografias para ilustrar el paso a paso de cada una de ellas.  Gracias y saludos desde Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
  • #48
  • Comment by thomas j. byrne
Can you please tell me where to get that ravioli cutter you got from cemora italy please, all the cutters i have are way too thin resulting in leakage of stuffing when boiling...so a name or something would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Tom
are these raviolis sauced?
  • FX's answer→ Not always.

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