Full of Fillings, Flavor and Differences
Ravioli, Tortellini and Agnolotti can easily be mixed up. These three stuffed pastas are very similar, but their primary difference are in where they originate, their fillings and the technique in which they're made. To help you understand what make Ravioli...well Ravioli, and not Agnolotti, or Tortellini, and vice versa we've broken down each pasta and their origins. We also have a recipe for each to get you inspired to whip up your own dish, and pick a favorite!
Agnolotti is a type of pasta that originates from Piedmont in Italy. Legend has it that agnolotti was invented in Piedmont to celebrate the end of the siege. The story says that the Marquis asked his chef, Angelot, to prepare a rich dinner in celebration. Upon checking the pantry, Angelot realized there was not much food left. So he decided to use meat leftover from previous days and stuffed it inside pasta. Marquis loved this dish so much, he decided to name it in honor of the chef who invented it – Angelot.
Angolotti is made with flattened pasta dough that is folded over a filling of meats or vegetables. The most popular filling for agnolotti is meat stewed in Barolo, a red wine from Piedmont. You can also find a unique version in the Monferrato region, which is stuffed with donkey meat. However traditionally it is stuffed with meat leftover from last night’s dinner.
Agnolotti is very similar to ravioli. The main difference between the two is that ravioli is prepared from two pieces of pasta cut into squares, while agnolotti is made from a single piece that is folded over.
Ravioli is a type of pasta composed of a filling sealed between two layers of thin pasta dough. Ravioli are typically square, though other forms are also used, including circular or semi-circular (mezzelune).
While no one can say for sure when the first ravioli appeared, Alan Davidson, author of The Oxford Companion To Food, suggests that the earliest known mention of ravioli appears in the personal letters of Francesco di Marco Datini, a merchant of Prato in the 14th century. According to Earth Wind and Flour, One theory of how the dish first came about involves the idea that the dish was likely inspired by a recipe for a much larger dish made of meat, vegetables, spices, and grains which was used a pie shell as a sort of pot, not to be eaten but just to cook the contents. This dish was known as a “torta”. By taking the idea of a torta and reducing it down into bite sized pieces we get what we today know as ravioli. A second theory related to the invention of the ravioli is that the dish was first invented by Genovesi sailors who would wrap the leftover portions of their meals within a dough pocket in order to add some additional variety to the typical sailor’s diet.
Usually served either in broth or with a pasta sauce, the filling of ravioli can vary depending on your location. In Rome and Latium the filling is made with ricotta cheese, spinach, nutmeg and black pepper. In Sardinia, ravioli are filled with ricotta and grated lemon rind.
Tortellini is a type of pasta originally from the Italian region of Emilia. Traditionally they are stuffed with various meats like pork, prosciutto or mortadella, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, egg and nutmeg and served in a broth.
Like Ravioli, Tortellini's true origins are a bit of a mystery. Although the story of how tortellini came to be varies throughout Italy, legend claims that Venus, the goddess of love, spent a night in a local inn. While there, the innkeeper stole a peek at her through the keyhole of her door, and within seconds of seeing the enchanting goddess, he was struck by that divine degree of inspiration. He then went to his kitchen and masterminded the tortellini pasta, said to be sculpted in the shape of Venus’s navel. However, Tortellini was more likely created during the Middle Ages in an attempt to encase a delicious pasta filling and cook it without it spilling out into the boiling water.
The major difference between Tortellini, Ravioli and Agnolotti is the shape. While Ravioli and Agnolotti take more of a pillow-y form, Tortellini is folded and pinched into a ring shape.