Medieval Ravioli


During the Middle Ages, pasta became particularly appreciated and common. We find many recipes in the cookbooks, from the most simple methods (for example, lasagna recipes) to growing levels of complexity. Among the most interesting dishes, we find pies (prepared with meat, fish, vegetables or fruit) tortelli and ravioli. While the method to prepare dough is similar for all of these plates (usually, they are made kneading the flour with water, sometimes adding eggs), the differences are in the size, shape, and filling.
Today we prepare green ravioli from the 14th-century cookbook conventionally called Anonimo Veneziano: pasta stuffed with spinach and chard mixed with cheese and spices.
Green was one of the favorite colors for the foods.

We have many green preparations, for example, sauces, flans, pies, and ravioli. The ingredients were all the herbs that were available in the Old World: beet, spinach, nettle, parsley, mallow, mint, dandelion, borage, and many others, cultivated or wild. You can choose the green leafy vegetables you prefer to prepare this dish, according to your taste.
Tortelli and ravioli prepared with beet, spinach or nettle, usually mixed with hard cheese and ricotta, then served well buttered and sparkled with cheese and black pepper, are still a very common and traditional Italian dish. There are a few differences with their medieval ancestor, more spiced and particularly interesting.
Below, you will find a note about the ingredients and the original text of the recipe with the English translation. Enjoy!

fresh cow cheese
aged pecorino
one egg
200 grams re-milled durum wheat semolina
sweet and strong spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, long pepper, cinnamon leaves)
chicken broth

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Peel and mince the ginger, then grind the other spices in the mortar.
Parboil the chard and spinach. As soon as they start to boil, remove them from the water.
Mince the vegetables and mix with fresh cheese, grated pecorino, one egg, and the spices. Add a pinch of salt if the cheese is not salty enough.
Now, prepare the dough kneading the semolina with warm water and two pinches of salt. For two dishes of ravioli, we used 200 grams semolina. Roll a thin pasta sheet and cut it out with a glass. Fill the pasta and close it well with your finger, if you prefer, moistened with water.
Cook the ravioli al dente in the broth, then plate them coated with grated cheese and ground spices. The cooking time depends on the thickness of the sheet, the kind of flour you used, and the hardness of the dough.

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Note about the ingredients
The anonymous author recommends using strong and sweet spices. We used the spice mixes he suggests in his cookbook: strong spices (cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, and long pepper) and sweet spices (ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and cinnamon leaves). Among them, you can select the ones you prefer.
The recipe says nothing about the kinds of cheese, except that they have to be fresh and aged.
Usually, we have scarce information about the shape of the ravioli, often decided by the cook. In this case, the author gives us an important direction: he says we have to use a cup (mizolo in the original text) to cut it out.
Pasta in the Middle Ages was usually cooked in broth. You can prepare the broth with meat (beef, chicken, pork) or fish. You will obtain a better result with a fat broth. We suggest seasoning it with spices, selected among the ones of the two mixes described above.
You can use any kind of flour. Re-milled durum semolina will help to obtain a harder dough, better in taste.

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Original recipe
Se tu voy fare rafioli de herbe o de altre manere, toy herbe e mondale ben e lavale; po’ le alessa un pocho e trali fuora e spremali ben fora l’ aqua e batelli con el cortello e poy in mortaro e toy del caxo frescho e passo, ova e specie dolze e forte e mena ben inseme e fay pastume e poy fay la pasta sotille a modo de lasagne e toy uno mizolo largo e fay i rafioli. Quando sono fati mitili a choxere e quando è ben cocti polverizage suso specie asay con bon caso assay e son boni assay.

To make ravioli with herbs or other ingredients, take herbs, clean and wash them. Later, parboil them for a little time, remove from the water, and strain well, then mince with a knife and put in the mortar. Mix with fresh and aged cheese, eggs, and sweet and strong spices. Knead a thin sheet of pasta like lasagna’s and cut it with a big cup, then make ravioli. Cook them and serve sprinkled with a good amount of spices and cheese. They are very good.

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