If the opportunity presents itself, I highly recommend marrying into an Italian family—particularly if the Italian family in question happens to throw parties centered around making hundreds of Nonna’s Homemade Ravioli.
I married Ben because (among many reasons) I loved him, but the truth is—I fell in love with his family too. They are some of the warmest, most welcoming, fun individuals I’ve ever met, and as any of them will tell you, on Ben’s mom side they are 100% Italian.
Every November, Ben’s aunts, a few uncles, and family friends gather at his Nonna (grandma) and Nono (grandpa)’s house for the annual “Ravioli Day.” Together, they make and freeze hundreds of homemade ravioli, stowing them away for Christmas dinner. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have caught some of the action last weekend.
The Story Behind This Homemade Ravioli Recipe
Although this wasn’t my first year eating the illustrious ravioli—the family has been so kind as to save a few for me each year, since we usually spend Christmas in Kansas with my family—it was the first year I’ve been able to join for Ravioli Day. Not only did I learn a thing or two about homemade pasta (it’s harder than it looks, and I’m fortunate to have great teachers), but also I felt incredibly blessed to be a part of such a special family tradition.
This isn’t a post about how to make homemade ravioli—I’ll need a few more Ravioli Days and glasses of Prosecco before I’m ready for that—although Nonna was generous enough to let me share her incredible family recipe with you, which can be found at the end of this post.
Rather, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on family traditions. As the holidays barrel down upon us, it’s easy to forget what really makes them “the most wonderful time of the year.” It’s only the second week of November, and I already feel stressed about holiday shopping, the skyrocketing prices of plane tickets, squeezing in holiday baking, and did I mention shopping?
Traditions like Ravioli Day are a beautiful reminder of what actually makes the holidays wonderful: families gathering together to celebrate in whichever way is most significant to them.
For Ben’s family, who I feel blessed to call my family too, tradition means spending hours on a Saturday making fresh homemade pasta, then patiently waiting nearly two months to gather again and enjoy that pasta together on Christmas. It’s special, it’s reenergizing, and it’s a whole lot of fun.
Other Delicious Pasta Recipes
If you’re not interested in making your own pasta from scratch but want a tasty pasta dish, here are a few ideas:
- Chicken Broccoli Ziti
- Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken
- Turkey Bolognese
- Spinach Ricotta Ravioli with Shrimp
In the spirit of sharing family traditions, Ravioli Day 2014. Our final count: 690 ravs, a family record!
How to Freeze Homemade Ravioli
- To Freeze. Lay your homemade ravioli in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and place in the freezer until they’re frozen solid. Then, store the frozen ravioli in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 6 months. Cook from frozen.
Thanks for letting me share this special family tradition with you. What are your family’s traditions? I’d love to hear about them!
And from Nonna: Homemade Ravioli.
Nonna's Homemade Ravioli
- Olive oil
- 2 pounds beef, twice ground
- 1/2 pound veal, twice ground
- 1/2 pound pork, twice ground
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 tablespoon garlic crushed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 32 ounces chopped frozen spinach, thawed and pressed dry
- 16 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 3/4 cup bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup grated cheese
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
For the Ravioli Dough (Single Batch—you will need 4 batches):
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup water or a mixture of water and milk
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- For the filling: Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown the three meats, onion, celery, and garlic together until cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cool, then stir in the spinach, ricotta, eggs, bread crumbs, flour, cheese, nutmeg, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Let come to room temperature before filling the pasta.
- For the ravioli dough: Place the flour, eggs, water and oil to a standing mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes to blend. Switch to the dough hook, then knead for 5 to 10 minutes until silky. Transfer dough to a board rubbed with a few drops of vegetable oil, lightly rub the top with additional oil, then cover with a large overturned bowl and let rest 10 to 20 minutes.
- Cut dough into 8 pieces, then cut into 14 to 16 pieces. Run dough through the pasta maker, lay on forms, and fill ravioli, placing a second sheet of dough on the top. Once made, place ravioli in a single layer on a wax paper lined and lightly floured baking sheet. Dust tops lightly with flour. Cook immediately or freeze and save for Christmas dinner.
- This recipe yields a whopping 400 to 450 ravioli!
- If you'd like to scale it, plan on 100 ravioli per pound of meat/batch of dough.
- Your yield will vary based on how heavily they are filled. Use a light touch and resist the urge to add too much filling. A small amount is best.
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