Most of us know ravioli, which is plural for raviolo, as a type of Italian filled pasta composed of a filling sealed between two layers of thin pasta dough. Traditional fillings include various combinations of cheeses, meats, seafood, vegetables, and seasonings; and are most often found shaped as squares, circles or half moons of varying sizes. Ravioli are typically served with a sauce such as Marinara, or a butter/cream type; and they are also served in a broth. However, here in the United States, and specifically in St Louis, several Italian-American restaurants have claimed to be the first to “invent” and serve what they call “toasted ravioli”. But to me toasted ravioli seems to be a misnomer as the ravioli are actually deep-fried.
Alhough there are several stories relating to the discovery by one chef or another in different restaurants located in the Italian section of St. Louis known as the “The Hill”, the common theme is that a raviolo was accidently dropped into hot oil instead of boiling water, and upon tasting it was found to be quite good. Thereafter, toasted ravioli began to appear in restaurants and bars throughout St. Louis as an appetizer or snack.
Generally, for the St. Louis toasted ravioli, some type of meat, cheese or combination of the two is wrapped as square ravioli. It’s then breaded and deep-fried until the ravioli becomes slightly crispy and golden brown. It’s then sprinkled with Parmigiano cheese and served hot with marinara sauce for dipping. Toasted ravioli can be found in several variations throughout the United States. For example, in New England, toasted ravioli is traditionally stuffed with provolone and Parmesan cheese; and, in the Western United States, you can find toasted ravioli filled with chicken.
Toasted ravioli are a fun snack and also make a great finger food for parties. The recipe I’ve included for toasted ravioli is a good basic recipe for any type; freshly made or frozen, just vary the filling to reflect your personal tastes. Give them a try and let me know how they turn out.
- 1 pound small fresh or frozen ravioli, meat and/or cheese
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup milk, or more if needed
- 2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs or plain breadcrumbs seasoned with typical Italian seasonings
- Salt and freshly ground pepper , to taste
- Grated Parmigiano cheese, to taste
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Marinara sauce, for dipping
- If the ravioli are fresh freeze about 1 hour or until hard
- Spread the frozen ravioli on a baking sheet.
- Beat eggs and milk in a shallow dish.
- In another shallow dish, mix breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.
- Dip the ravioli in the egg mixture, let the excess drip off then coat with the breadcrumbs. Return to the baking sheet and freeze until hard, about another hour.
- Add about 1 inch vegetable oil in a deep skillet heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F.
- Fry the ravioli in batches turning as needed until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer baking sheet lined with a paper towel and immediately sprinkle with the Parmigiano cheese.
- Serve hot with the marinara sauce.
- Image: Homemade fried ravioli with marinara sauce is used under license: © Brent Hofacker/Dollar Photo Club – All rights reserved
Image: Homemade Fried Ravioli with Marinara Sauce is used under license: © Brent Hofacker/Dollar Photo Club – All rights reserved