Raviolies (plural; singular: raviolo) are a type of filled pasta composed of a filling sealed between two layers of thin pasta dough. The word ravioli is reminiscent of the Italian verb riavvolgere (“to wrap”), though the two words are not etymologically connected. The word may also be a diminutive of Italian dialectal rava, or turnip.
The earliest mention of ravioli appear in the writings of Francesco di Marco, a merchant of Prato in the 14th century In Venice, the mid-14th century manuscript Libro per cuoco offers ravioli of green herbs blanched and minced, mixed with beaten egg and fresh cheese, simmered in broth, a recipe that would be familiar today save for its medieval powdering of “sweet and strong spices”. In Tuscany, some of the earliest mentions of the dish come from the personal letters of Francesco di Marco Datini, a merchant of Prato in the 14th century. In Rome, ravioli were already well-known when Bartolomeo Scappi served them with boiled chicken to the papal conclave of 1549.
Toasted Ravioli comes from St.Louis, Missouri.
Ravioli were already known in 14th century England, appearing in the Anglo-Norman vellum manuscript Forme of Cury under the name of rauioles. Sicilian ravioli and Malta’s ravjul may thus be older than North Italian ones. Maltese ravjul are stuffed with irkotta, the locally produced sheep’s-milk ricotta, or with gbejna, the traditional fresh sheep’s-milk cheese.
Today, ravioli are made in worldwide industrial lines supplied by Italian companies such as Arienti & Cattaneo, Ima, Ostoni, and Zamboni. “Fresh” packed ravioli usually have seven weeks of shelf life. Canned ravioli, pioneered by Chef Boyardee, is arguably the most widely available form of ravioli available in cultures where ravioli is not a common dish. This type of ravioli is filled with either beef or processed cheese and served in a tomato, tomato-meat, or tomato-cheese sauce. Canned ravioli has more in common with other canned pastas than with traditional ravioli dishes. Its roots are in traditional American “red sauce” Italian-American restaurants opened by Italian immigrants in New York and other cities.
Similar foods in other cultures include the Chinese jiaozi or wonton – in fact, ravioli and tortellini are collectively referred to as “Italian jiaozi” (義大利餃) or “Italian wonton” (意大利雲吞)) – Eastern and central European pierogi, the Russian pelmeni, the Ukrainian varenyky, the Tibetan momo, the Turkish mantı, German Maultaschen, and Jewish kreplach. In the Levant, a similar dish called shishbarak contains pasta filled with minced beef meat and cooked in hot yogurt.