This is the Sicilian ravioli recipe that’s been passed down in my family – but we used to make 250 at a time, so I’ve scaled it down considerably.
Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredients list or instructions – I have written out different instructions depending on the equipment you have on hand, and this is one of those recipes that just requires time, not necessarily a high level of skill. The result is an incredibly supple, perfectly chewy pasta dough, with a comforting cheesy filling that has a bright pop of lemon. The sauce is a rich sausage ragu that cooks down for an hour until it has a deep, delicious flavor – when we used to make our huge batches, it would sit on the stove for up to 8 hours!
Read more about the tradition of these ravioli here, and why they’re so special to me.
Sicilian Ricotta Ravioli with Sausage Ragu
For The Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound sweet or mild Italian sausage, casing removed
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 ounce can tomato paste
- 28 ounce can of crushed tomato or tomato puree
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
For The Pasta Dough:
- 2 ¼ cups semolina flour
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 egg yolks at room temperature
- 1 cup water plus more if needed
- 1 egg white lightly whisked, for assembly
For The Filling:
- 2 cups whole milk ricotta
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 cup frozen spinach, defrosted and drained, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest, from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh Parmesan, to garnish
- Extra Virgin Olive oil, for drizzling
- Fresh basil, to garnish
- For the sauce, set a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium heat on the stove. Add the olive oil, and wait 30 seconds for the oil to heat up. Add the Italian sausage, and use a wooden spoon to break it up into bite-sized pieces as it cooks. Once the sausage has browned and cooked through, after about 5 minutes, add the onion, celery, garlic and salt. Stir occasionally until everything is cooked through and the onions are translucent. Add the tomato paste and stir for 2 minutes until slightly caramelized. Add the crushed tomato, then fill up the empty can with water, and add to the pot as well. Stir to combine, and set the heat to medium-low. Cook the sauce on a low simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened slightly.
- Meanwhile, start the pasta dough. In a large bowl, mix the flours and salt together. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and add the olive oil, egg yolks, and water. Using a fork, break up the eggs then gradually start to draw flour from the edges into the mixture. When the dough gets too firm to mix with the fork, switch to mixing with your hands.
- Once the flour is worked in, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 5 minutes or until it is smooth and pliable. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- While the dough rests, make the filling. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients with a rubber spatula until combined. Set aside.
- If using a pasta roller: Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Starting with the machine set to the widest setting, pass the dough through the rollers. Continue passing the pasta through the machine, reducing the setting a few notches each time. You may need to dust a bit with flour if the dough sticks to the rollers at all. Once you reach your desired thickness, set aside to make the ravioli.
- If using a rolling pin: Divide the dough in half. Dust your surface with flour and sprinkle a bit on your rolling pin as well. Roll out the dough as thin and as evenly possible, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.
- If using a ravioli mold: Cut the first rolled-out dough sheet in half to fit over the mold. Place the first sheet on top of the mold, gently pressing down into the indentations. Place small mounds of filling, about 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons, into the indentations. With a small pastry brush or spoon, use the whisked egg white to coat the unfilled edges of the ravioli. Gently drape the second half of the dough sheet on top, using your fingers to press down on the unfilled edges, and press down with a rolling pin to form the ravioli. Make one pin-prick into the center of each ravioli with a toothpick to ensure they do not explode while cooking. Continue with the remaining un-used dough, and be sure to use the dough scraps to assemble more ravioli.
- If you don’t have a ravioli mold: Cut the first rolled-out dough sheet in half – they should be about 1 foot long each. Place small mounds of filling, about 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons each, in 2 rows of 6 on the sheet of dough. With a small pastry brush or spoon, use the whisked egg white to coat the unfilled edges of the ravioli. Gently drape the second half of the dough sheet on top, using your fingers to press down on the unfilled edges to seal. Using a small 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, ravioli cutter or small drinking glass, cut out the ravioli. Make one pin-prick into the center of each ravioli with a toothpick to ensure they do not explode while cooking.
- In batches, add the ravioli to the boiling water and simmer until they float and are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon and add to a platter.
- Finish the sauce by adding fresh parsley and basil, and stir to combine. Spoon the sauce over the ravioli, and drizzle with olive oil. Finish with Parmesan and fresh basil.