Rosa's Ravioli Recipe

When Rosa makes ravioli in The Cielo: A Novel of Wartime Tuscany, she's using a recipe handed down by my mother, who, I'm certain, received it from her mother, and so on. My mother was famous for her ravioli in Hubbell, Mich., and made them for a local restaurant. They were the highlight of all of our holiday dinners. She never referred to a recipe but when she was in her 80's, she wrote one down so that her children would enjoy them long after she was gone. None of us makes them like she did--but we try.

Here's the recipe, as she wrote it. You may want to make some substitutions and alterations.

-- Paul Salsini

To get a printable version click here.

The filling for about 50 ravioli

Fry hamburger in shortening. In the meantime, put celery, parsley and onion through the meat chopper. When meat starts to brown, add this and fry about 15 minutes longer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Now cut bread in cubes, add enough warm water just to soak it through, add unbeaten eggs, beat. Now add the spices. A little more or less of everything will make more or less ravioli. Use your own judgment.

Dough for about 50 ravioli:

Add margarine to hot water and let it melt. Add salt and beaten eggs. Mix, then add enough flour to make a stiff ball. Knead well, until it is satiny and doesn't stick to the fingers. Add more flour if needed. Divide in three portions. Roll each into a round circle, thinner than a pie crust. Now put a tablespoon of the filling along the edge of the dough about two inches apart. Turn dough over all. Press with your hands around each ravioli and cut with a glass. With fork, close each ravioli as you would around a pie. Keep putting filling along the dough until it is all used up. Lay on a floured cloth, let dry overnight. Do not cover. Turn them over the next morning to dry.


Fry 1 lb. of hamburger until brown. Add one large onion, chopped, ¼ cup chopped celery. Fry about 15 minutes or so, then add 2 cups tomatoes or a can of tomato sauce, a small can of mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste. Add more tomatoes if you like a lot of sauce. Let simmer an hour or more.

Making them

Use a large pan or pot to boil them in, fill with 2/3 full of water, add a tablespoon of salt, let come to a full boil, add a few ravioli at a time so the water keeps boiling. When all are added, cover the pan and boil about 20 or 30 minutes. Watch, because they boil over. Drain in strainer. Now put them in a large bowl, cover with a little sauce and parmesan cheese which has been mixed with spices, then add another layer of ravioli, then sauce and cheese, etc. You need about ¾ cup of the cheese mix, with ¼ teaspoons each of cinnamon and cloves.

I make the filling in the morning, then after supper I make the dough and make the ravioli, then let them dry overnight. The next morning I make the sauce and cook them. You can make them all in one day, but they need time to dry for a while.

They're lots of work and expensive too, but they are good, and you need only a salad with them, and maybe a dessert. Good luck!