Since the times of the ancient Romans, the carnival, or Saturnalia, was a time of celebration and special fried foods, deriving from the Latin word “frictilia”. Later, Christianity perpetuated the tradition by retaining these preparatory delicacies for the meagre days of Lent.
My childhood memories are still vivid, with the scent of spices in the air reminding me that
Carnival had arrived and ingredients, considered "exotic" at the time, making the occasion all the more memorable. Popular treats took different shapes from country to country, with varying names in each region, yet similar ingredients.
My favourites of these are still the sweet ravioli filled with ricotta cream. They require a little dexterity but I find them delicious. I love ravioli in every variation; I love the secret they hide, the surprise of the first taste, the aesthetic modesty that turns into pure emotion.
In this recipe, I would like to explore past the canonical scents of traditional spices – the cinnamon-cloves-nutmeg trilogy – and add new essences such as herbs and essential oils to enhance the complementary tastefulness. This is my grandma's recipe, which we as children would all gather round to watch her create.
The pasta ingredients:
300 gr type 0 flour
40 gr sweet wine, like Marsala
35 gr extra virgin olive oil
50 gr sugar
1 pinch of salt
Make a mountain with the flour
Add the eggs and add them strictly by hand to the flour
Next, add sugar, oil, salt and Marsala
Knead until the mixture is smooth
Cover with a cloth and leave to rest for an hour
300 gr ricotta
100 gr icing sugar
10 gr candied orange peel (untreated)
1 cardamom pod
1 tip of star anise
1 pinch of mace
1 pinch of cinnamon
15 natural pistachios
10 mint leaves
How to assemble:
Drain the ricotta in a pan covered with gauze fabric to avoid direct contact with the metal.
Cut the candied peel into small cubes
Coarsely chop the pistachios
Take the seeds from the cardamom and chop finely with the other spices and mint leaves
Gently mix all the ingredients in with the ricotta
Roll out the dough very thinly with a rolling pin or with a pastry machine. If it is sticky, it helps to use a pinch of flour
With the help of a glass or a metal cup, cut out moulds of about 6 centimetres in diameter
Arrange a teaspoon of filling on the dough, slightly off-centre, close the ravioli on itself to form a crescent, let the air out and weld
Trim with a knurled pastry wheel (grandmothers never used a smooth wheel)
The remaining scraps of dough between the cut circles can be kneaded again or fried separately for a joyful preview, loved by children
Fry the ravioli, preferably, in extra virgin olive oil at around 160 degrees
As soon as they have a nice amber colour and come to the surface, drain them and place them on a paper towel, leaving them to cool slightly
To finish, sprinkle with powdered sugar if you wish
Discover more inspiring travel stories and recipes on The Notebook, Rocco Forte Hotels’ travel blog.