Unconfusing the Different Italian Stuffed Pastas

Most Popular Filled Pastas

Most everybody loves pasta – one of the world’s popular comfort foods. Widely consumed, pasta is available at supermarkets, convenience stores, gourmet outlets, bakeries, delis, and in many restaurants – fast food or full service. Made from scratch or fresh or bought in boxes or dry, pasta is a favorite around the world, and stuffed pasta is even better. It comes in different types, and sometimes it can be complicated.

Typically made from an unleavened dough of a durum wheat flour mixed with water or eggs and formed into sheets or various shapes, pasta is cooked by boiling or baking. Stuffed pasta is the same, except that delicious fillings are put inside. There are many types of filled pasta, but let’s deal with the more popular ones – ravioli, tortellini, and cannelloni.

Ravioli is arguably the most popular filled pasta. It’s a square, double layer of pasta that is stuffed with a filling in between to form a shape of a pillow. A larger version of ravioli is called ravioloni, a smaller version, ravioletti. They are typically square, though they can be circular. Usually served either in broth or with a pasta sauce, they originated as a traditional food in Italian cuisine. Ravioli can be stuffed with egg or with butternut squash. Sometimes, they use Italian sausage with fresh spinach, creamy ricotta cheese, and fresh sage, or vegetables like mushroom, arugula, or hazelnuts.

Tortellini are circles of pasta that are folded in half to form a half circle after the filling is added and then twisted to form the shape of a little hat. A larger version of tortellini is called tortelloni, the size of a walnut. The name roughly translates to small tortelli, a term formerly used in Italian to designate all stuffed pasta, which is a diminutive form of torte, savory stuffed pies. They’re delicious in broth, as well as in a tortellini salad, accompanied by spring vegetables or with asparagus, fresh peas and lemon sauce. They can have cheese inside, tomato cream sauce, spinach or Italian sausage.

Cannelloni are rolled, tubular pastas that are stuffed with a filling. Popular stuffings include spinach and ricotta or minced beef, others have chicken, goat cheese, spinach. Sometimes they are called by what’s inside the cannelloni, as Swiss chard and goat cheese cannelloni or kale and mushroom cannelloni. Often referred as manicotti in the US, but not to be confused with crepes called manicotti also. The manicotti pasta are wide and ridged pasta tubes, while cannelloni are large and smooth pasta tubes.

Stuffed pasta is generally fresh but there are frozen and dried types. The cooking times for fresh stuffed pasta are around less than 10 minutes, 2 to 4 minutes more if the pasta is frozen or dried, and also depending on the thickness and size of the pasta sheet. When cooking fresh pasta, it should be watched carefully and checked once the pasta floats to the top.

Come by Amaro Bistro this Week!

Have you decided what kind of pasta you like? If you’re still having a hard time deciding, take a look at our menu!