The simplest and most general way to define stuffed pasta is pasta that is filled with ingredients such as meat, cheese, vegetables or a combination of any ingredients that is sealed between two pieces of fresh pasta. There are endless types and variations of stuffed pasta, which makes it one of the most beloved classifications of the pasta family.
Types of Stuffed Pasta
Because pasta is so neutral in flavor, it lends itself to a myriad of fillings. While ricotta cheese and meat are the most traditional, today, with the creativity and playfulness of chefs, pasta fillings range from winter squash to goat cheese to barely cooked egg yolks. Numerous shapes and sizes of stuffed pastas are available from large tubes, such as cannelloni, to smaller variations like agnolotti, ravioli, and tortellini. A number of cultures have their own versions of stuffed pasta such as the Chinese pot sticker, Jewish kreplach, and Russian pierogi to name a few. Here is a helpful cheat sheet for you to better understand some of the classic varieties of stuffed pastas:
- Agnolotti: This ear-shaped, semi-circle pasta is often stuffed with cheese, meat or a variety of fillings
- Cannelloni: This pasta is a large tube shape and is traditionally cooked in the oven and stuffed with any filling.
- Casoncelli: This pasta has a classic shape of a wrapped candy piece, and is traditionally stuffed with egg, breadcrumbs, meat, cheese, or any similar combination.
- Fagottini: This is a bundle-shaped pasta that is often stuffed with steamed veggies, ricotta cheese, and onion
- Mezzelune: This pocket-shaped pasta can be stuffed with any type of filling
- Occhi di Lupo: This pasta has a small tube shape similar to that of penne, but it is stuffed with any variety of ingredients
- Panzerotti: This half-moon, pocket-shaped pasta can be stuffed with any ingredients like a dumpling and boiled or fried
- Ravioli: This classic square-shaped pasta is stuffed with any ingredients
- Sacchettini: This pasta has a small purse shape to it and is stuffed with any filling
- Tortellini: This small navel/ring shaped pasta can be stuffed with any combination of fillings
- Tortelloni: This larger navel/ring shaped pasta can be stuffed with any combination of fillings
Tips and Tricks for Stuffing Pasta
When making stuffed pasta, there are a few basic rules that should be followed to ensure success.
- The dough for these pastas should be soft and malleable, never stiff or dry.
- The filling must be tasted before it is put into the dough to ensure that it is well seasoned and flavored.
- Pasta sheets should be rolled out and then worked with one at a time.
- Once the filling has been placed on a sheet of pasta, the pasta is then either folded over and cut into shapes and sealed, or another piece of pasta is placed on top and then the edges are sealed.
- Stuffed pasta is sometimes cut into shapes, such as small circles or squares or folded into different shapes such as tortellini.
- Sometimes a mold or a press is used to form the stuffed pasta.
- It is very important to make sure that filled pasta is sealed completely so that the filling does not seep out while the pasta cooks and that no water is allowed to get inside the pasta, which would make the filling watery and runny.
- All air pockets must be pressed out as the pasta is sealed or they can burst open as the pasta cooks.
- It is most common to use water, egg, or just egg yolk, to seal the edges and ensure that the seal remains tight.