Pasta: one of the gems of Italy, adopted and loved in America since its introduction here. On average, an American eats twenty pounds of pasta per year, which is more than forty pounds less than the amount the average Italian eats.
Penne rigate is one of the most popular pasta cuts, used as side dishes or in casseroles. However, there are many different kinds of pastas that may not be as common but are delicious just the same. For example, the stuffed pasta group, which includes tortellini, ravioli, and agnolotti, usually features meat and cheese fillings. Tortellini and ravioli are sold in many grocery stores and have numerous manufacturers; Mama Rosie’s, Buitoni, and Silver Star are just a few.
However, the more uncommon stuffed pastas are definitely worth trying. Agnolotti are the Italian version of Polish pierogis, half-circle dough pouches filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables. Casoncelli, from the Lombardy area of Italy, are stuffed with bread crumbs, meat, spinach, and sometimes pear. Casunziei, from Veneto, feature vegetables and cheese for fillings. Both these pastas resemble ravioli. Fagottini are also stuffed with cheese and vegetables or pear, and mezzelune feature Bitto cheese and white pepper for a filling. Gnocchi is an Italian favorite: dough and potatoes make oval bundles which can be stuffed with spinach and cheese. Occhi di Lupo is a pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese, parsley, and basil and in the shape of penne, while sacchettini and sacchettoni are stuffed with different types of cheese. Tortellini and tortelloni, the larger version of tortellini, are filled with various seasoned cheeses and sometimes meat and vegetables such as spinach.
Most of these stuffed pastas are rich, since they are filled with cheeses and meat, such as sausage and beef. However, there is no doubt they are delectable, and exemplify the savory delicacies of the Italian palate. Many of these stuffed pastas are available in grocery stores.
Michelle Kukla is a senior at Villanova University, majoring in English, minoring in Spanish, and concentrating in Irish Studies. Growing up with an Italian mother allowed her to learn the value of good cooking, tradition, and family. She hopes to become a traveling photojournalist and document the parts of different cultures that are little known but crucial to peoples’ identities.