This ricotta and Parmigiano filled ravioli with meat sauce comes from the Central Italian region of Marche, also known as Le Marche. The traditional homemade ricotta ravioli is easy to make as the filling requires no cooking.
The meat sauce is made with small pieces of beef instead of ground beef and is seriously delicious! Of course, you can serve the ravioli with a tomato or vegetable sauce for a just as yummy meatless meal.
Sheep or cow’s milk ricotta?
Known as calcioni or cargiù in the local dialect, the ravioli in this traditional recipe is usually filled with sheep ricotta, which is what I used. Of course, you can use fresh cow’s milk ricotta instead. This is a recipe that comes from inland Marche where sheep and goat farming is more predominant than dairy cow farming.
This is traditionally true of most of Central and Southern Italy, where the climate and arid mountainous landscapes make dairy cow farming difficult. In fact, many local cheeses in the lower regions of the Italian boot are made from sheep and goat’s milk.
A ravioli recipe for family occasions and holidays.
In Marche, they make this traditional homemade ricotta ravioli with meat sauce most often for holidays and family lunches in the Spring. Apparently, this is when the sheep have the most milk and the ricotta is at its most delicious! Nowadays, we can buy good sheep or cow’s ricotta all year. But, I love the fact that so many Italian dishes are based on such seasonality.
Other ways to serve traditional homemade ricotta ravioli.
You can also serve your homemade ravioli with just butter and Parmigiano, pesto, a simple tomato sauce or your favourite ragu. However, if you are a meat eater, I highly recommend trying the meat sauce in this recipe because it’s really very good. Vegetarians will need to leave out or replace the Parmigiano in the filling as Italian Parmigiano isn’t vegetarian.
Making the ravioli dough.
Like most ravioli, the dough for calcioni from Marche contains flour and eggs. I first found this recipe in a book I have of recipes from Marche. That recipe calls for just Italian ‘00’ soft wheat flour.
However, most other recipes online for the same dish use a mixture of soft wheat flour and hard wheat flour (durum wheat semolina flour). I decided to use both flours in equal proportions. You can use just the soft wheat flour or all-purpose flour.
For every 100g of flour you will need one large egg. Here in Italy, we can buy eggs with an orange yolk for making pasta! These eggs give the pasta a beautiful deep yellow colour. I think it’s better for the flavour of the dough to use organic eggs but, needless to say, any type of egg is fine.
If using 2 types of flour, you need to sift them together and then add the eggs. I like to start my dough in a bowl and then turn it out onto a pastry board once it’s looking more ‘dough’ like! You could also use a kitchen aid or start the traditional way by creating a well of flour on a wooden board, adding the eggs to the middle of the flour and mixing together using your hands, a fork or a scrapper.
Once the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl or kitchen mixer, knead it on a dusted pastry board until it’s soft and pliable. Then roll it into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes. In the meantime, you can make the ravioli filling.
Assembling the ravioli
Calcioni (or cargiù) are normally slightly larger than other types of ravioli and usually square or half-moon in shape (Italians say mezzelune). You can also make them round. We made mezzelune.
After rolling the dough out using a pasta machine, we cut 15cm circles out of the dough sheets. Then placed a generous teaspoon of filling in the centre, brushed the edges with egg white and folded the dough over the filling to create half-moon ravioli. Finally, we used a fork to press the edges, so they seal. Plus, it makes a nice pattern along the rounded side of the ravioli.
In total we had 36 homemade ricotta ravioli which is a good portion for 6 people as they are quite big. Until you are ready to cook the ravioli keep them on a floured surface (I used baking paper). You can prepare these ricotta raviolis the day before and keep them in a cool dry place but not the fridge as the humidity will make them soft and sticky.
Making the meat sauce.
The meat sauce for this homemade ricotta ravioli from Marche is a little different to iconic ragu like Bolognese. There’s no ground meat in it, although you could use it if you wish. Instead, the beef is sirloin or rump steak cut into very small pieces. In addition, there are beef bones cooked in the sauce for extra flavour and nutrients! Of course, these are removed before serving.
The sauce also has the traditional Italian soffritto ingredients of carrots, onion and celery; peeled canned or fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, fresh marjoram and salt. Because the beef is a tender cut and in small pieces the sauce doesn’t need long cooking. 45 minutes in total is enough.
Cook and serve ricotta ravioli and sauce.
Once your sauce is ready, then just boil a large pan of salted water and cook the ravioli for about 5 minutes. It’s better to test taste one before serving as cooking times may differ depending on the thickness of the dough. You’ll probably have to do them in batches and remove them from the water with a slotted spoon. Serve your ready ravioli with the sauce and some more grated parmigiano.
You can freeze your ravioli for later.
Because 36 raviolis were way too many for my hubby and I, we froze some for later. To freeze them, put the ravioli on baking paper on a tray or plate in the freezer. Make sure they don’t touch each other. Once they are frozen you can transfer the ravioli to sealed freezer bags. Frozen ravioli needs to be cooked from frozen. Cooking times will be longer.
Using up leftovers and meal prep ideas.
Apart from freezing some of our homemade ricotta ravioli, we baked our leftover ravioli with meat sauce with some grated cheese on top. This was such a delicious way to use them up and meant not having to cook the next day.
You could also prepare this dish in advance, even the day before, and then bake when ready to serve. Alternatively, freeze the sauce and ravioli for another day!
Let me know what you think.
Whichever way you decide to serve this traditional homemade ricotta ravioli from Marche, I’m sure it will be a winner with friends and family.
If you do try this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.
Your feedback means a lot to me!
Traditional Homemade Ricotta Ravioli with Meat Sauce Recipe from Marche
For the ravioli dough
- 150 g Italian 00 soft wheat flour (5.5 oz)
- 150 g durum wheat semolina flour (5.5 oz) or just soft 300 g wheat flour or all purpose flour
- 3 eggs large + 1 egg white
For the ravioli filling
- 500 g fresh ricotta (1.1lb) sheep or cow's milk (drained)
- 1 egg
- 3-4 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano grated or vegetarian parmesan
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 pinch salt
For the meat sauce
- 400 g sirloin or rump steak (14oz) cut into small pieces
- 1 kg peeled fresh or canned tomatoes (2.2 lb) or 690g (1.5lb) passata
- 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
- 1 carrot washed, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk washed, peeled and finely chopped
- 1-2 beef bones
- 1 tbsp tomato concentrate (paste)
- fresh marjoram
- salt to taste
Make the ravioli dough
- Sift the 2 flours into a bowl, mix together and then add the eggs. Using your hands mix the eggs and flour together until you have a ‘dough’ which comes away from th eside of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a dusted pastry board and knead using the palms of your hands until it’s soft and pliable. Then roll the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
Make the ravioli filling
- Drain the ricotta well of any liquid. Then just mix the filling ingredients together in a bowl using a fork and it’s ready!
Make your ricotta ravioli
- Cut off ¼of the dough, press it slightly flat with the palm of you had and then roll it out using a pasta machine or rolling pin. The dough sheets don’t need to be as thin as for tagliatelle. Just thin enough to just see you fingers through them. Cut 15cm (6in) circles out of the dough sheets using a cookie/pastry cutter.
- Then put a generous teaspoon of filling in the centre of each disc, brush the edges with egg white and fold the dough over the filling to create half-moon ravioli. Finally, use a fork to press the edges, so they seal. Put the ready ravioli on a dusted tea towel or wooden board. I used baking paper on a tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Make the meat sauce
- Finely chop the onion, carrot and celery, peel and chop the tomatoes if using fresh ones. (immerse them in boiling water and then peel and chop them). Cut the meat into very small pieces.
- In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, sauté the onions, carrots and celery in olive oil. Add the bones and brown them on each side. Then add the meat and brown quickly. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste as well as some salt and fresh marjoram. Simmer the sauce covered for about 40 minutes until ready.
Cook and serve
- Put a pot of water on to boil for the ravioli. Add salt once it starts to boil. Cook the ravioli for about 5-6 minutes. It’s better to test taste one before serving as cooking times may differ depending on the thickness of the dough. You’ll probably need to do them in batches, so you don’t crowd the pan and lower the water temperature. Remove the ready ravioli from the water with a slotted spoon so you can cook another batch in the same water.
- Serve your homemade ricotta ravioli covered in meat sauce plus a sprinkling of Parmigiano if required.
Other homemade ravioli recipes to try.
- Sardinian Ricotta Ravioli with Saffron and Lemon.
- Baked fish ravioli from Liguria
- Potato and mint ravioli from Liguria
- Baked ravioli from Marche
- Pansotti with walnut sauce
Pin this delicious ravioli recipe for later!
If you are interested in learning how to make other homemade pasta and different types of gnocchi, check out my shop page for some great video online courses from my friends in Rome! Nothing beats learning to make pasta from Italians! Plus while you’re there why not order a copy of one of my pasta recipe cookbooks or checkout some recommended pasta making tools? All great prezzies for pasta lovers!