Recipe: Alfred’s Pork Ravioli

Makes enough filling for at least 150 standard ravioli

I have fond memories of curling up on the basement stairs, hanging over the railing, watching my great-great, very distant I’m-not-quite-sure-how-we’re-related cousin, Alfred, make ravioli. I’ll never forget the way the ravioli rolling pin zipped out dozens of ravioli in a heartbeat.

Alfred lived to 103 and I attribute that partly to the fact that he continued making ravioli two-three times a year, well into his nineties. He’d make a few hundred at a time, spreading out the work over several days (you can read his letter below to see exactly what he did).

Here’s my recommendation:

Day one: Eat pork chops for dinner. Save leftovers.
Day two: Make the dough and filling. Refrigerate.
Day three: Roll the dough and make the ravioli. Dry overnight, turning once.
Day four: Freeze.

I'm three. Alfred is about 88 or 89 in this picture (and in all the pictures in this post). He lived to 103. (Click to expand big enough to read)


3 bone-in pork chops, grilled and cooled
1 lb frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
4 large eggs
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 cup Parmesan
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup olive oil

approximately 2 batches homemade pasta dough



Grill up pork chops for dinner. Make three extra for the ravioli filling. Move frozen, chopped spinach to fridge to defrost. Go to bed and dream about Italy. DAY 2: Debone and grind the pork chops.

Next, mix pork with spinach, eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, nutmeg, pepper, milk …

… and olive oil. Adjust consistency with more milk if needed. It should be thick but easily spreadable.

Here’s the final result:

Next, roll out your homemade pasta dough nice and thinly. Here’s Alfred’s. And the back of my head. Hello three year-old head! (I look so blond).

Continually dust with flour as you roll the dough out. Before you spread with filing, add a healthy amount of flour beneath the dough so the ravioli do not stick. The sheet of dough should easily slide around on the table, even as big as I rolled it.

Proceed to spread with filling…

For comparison’s sake, here’s Alfred’s, plus the back of my head (again).

It looks to me like he ground his spinach up even more – maybe he passed it through the meat grinder. I’ll try that next time, just for fun.
Anyway, cover half of the sheet with the filling – in a very thin layer. If you add too much the ravioli won’t seal.

Fold the plain side over the filled side. Press all over with the palm of your hands to remove air bubbles, starting in the middle of the folded side, working up down and out until the whole thing is patted. Air pockets will make the ravioli burst when cooked.

Alfred shows you how it’s done (there’s Damien peeking out over his head):

Next, line up the ravioli rolling pin in order to get the most ravioli out of the piece of dough you’re working with. Slowly roll and press firmly to crimp the ravioli well.

I like Alfred’s ravioli pin better than mine. It looks sturdy and true. I wonder where it is today? Hopefully well loved.

Next, take a ravioli wheel and cut along the center of the crimp marks.


Transfer to a flour or cornmeal coated cookie sheet. (I used a spatula, Alfred used his hands)

Now you have three choices:
1. Cook immediately in gently boiling (almost simmering) salted water for about 5 minutes (depending on how thick you rolled the dough).
2. Freeze on the cookie sheet. Transfer to zip lock baggies and return to freezer.
3. Let them dry overnight, turning once. Then freeze in zip lock baggies.
Frozen ravioli take a little longer to cook. Ravioli dried overnight take even longer. Taste test to be sure they’re done.
The most wonderful thing about Alfred is that he dressed up for the occasion. Everyone should wear a tie when making ravioli.
Thank you Alfred. Your legacy lives on. We’ll think of you every time we eat your Pork Ravioli.
Next time we cook Italy we’ll make your sauce, too!
Much love and light, wherever you are!
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  1. Your mixture is shy spinach judging from the “color”…was that intentional? or were the proportions off-kilter..???

  2. This is great ! I love such family occasions where the traditions are kept alive. I had never seen such a ravioli pin before – I might get one if I come across one someday.
    Thanks a lot for sharing your family pictures !

  3. Sasha Martin says:

    Mom – I think it’s because I didn’t grind up the spinach (it wasn’t in the notes), but if I had it would have been greener. The quantities are his quantities.

    Carole – I found mine at a restaurant supply store. It’s not as heavy duty as his, but it still works great. :)

  4. Jessica Bennett says:

    Your ravioli look so perfect. Even with your tools, I’m sure mine would still be uneven.

  5. This week is AMAZING! and this post is AWESOME! I love how the photographer (Mum!?) captured you and Damien watching Alfred create his edible masterpiece! Nice entry Sash!

    • Yeah…Do you ever notice I am seldom in pictures with you kids growing up – and visits – because I was always the photographer…Damien was just starting to get interested in having his own camera.

      • Jessica Bennett says:

        I know the feeling. I’m always the one with the camera as well. I don’t like having my picture taken, but I suppose when looking back at some, it would be nice to remember that I was there :)

  6. John Goodenow says:

    Sasha, I really enjoy your family traditions regarding food. My family has theirs (ours), too. It is sad that more people don’t respect the power and spirit that binds us together with these traditions. Hello mcburgers and delivery pizza.

  7. I loved this entry and the wonderful nostalgia of it! I have a mincer and a ravioli cutter, but I never heard of a ravioli rolling pin, going to see if I can get one. My favouritie combo is butternut squash, ricotta and sage but I am going to give this a go.

  8. I just love the old photos! There’s something so special about those recipes… Gorgeous photos and I gotta have that ravioli rolling pin!

  9. I have my Grandpa’s old biscuit cutter and use it every time I make them and think of him and my Grandma (both lost many years ago). There’s nothing special about it except that it conjures memories of him happily making things (mostly German) in his kitchen for us all. I love the nostalgia in this post!

  10. Paul Bowler says:

    Great post all the better for being so personal. I need one of those rvioli rolling pins!

  11. Sasha Martin says:

    It’s so heartwarming to read about everyone’s traditions and special kitchen tools. I think we all need something in the kitchen that will spell “home” for our family, even long after we’re gone.

  12. Such a beautiful post! Nobody in my family owns such a rolling pin, also because we are more of a tortellini-family than a ravioli family (which means, hours spending shaping by hand). We all have pasta machines for the dough though.

    I don’t think pork chops are used in Italy – we usually do roasted pork or a mixture of roasted meats, so that then you have the sauce as well, ready to go (roasting juices with a little butter and parmesan). Probably the chops are an easier cut to find where Alfred lived? I love how he adapted the recipe to what he had.

  13. I’ve been reading this blog since the very first entry (when you linked on BBC). This is hands-down, my favorite post. It’s so sweet and I love the nostalgia. I, too, hail from an Italian family, so I know how important the cooking traditions are! (Though, I swear my family NEVER made or ate ravioli!). This was wonderful, and though I don’t aspire to make ravioli of my own, if I ever do, I’ll make Alfred’s recipe.

    (And I love your mom commenting on your posts. It cracks me up, Mama!)

    • Sasha Martin says:

      How awesome is that!!? Thank you for following along since the first post… BIG wow! And, yes, mom keeps it real. ha ha. Feel free to say hi again before another 83 countries go by. ;) It’s so neat to know you’ve stuck around.

      • I love this recipe, I’m going to try it tonight. Using the food processor and not a meat grinder (don’t have one) hope it looks as fabulous as yours.

  14. What a fantastic post! Clear instructions, mouth watering recipe, lovely personal story, and fantastic photos, both recent and old… And your mom’s comments add even another layer of family authenticity!
    By the way, are you familiar with the book “The lost ravioli of Hoboken?” the spirit is very similar to this post’s.
    Anyway, thank you so much for sharing!

  15. Brian Schwartz says:

    The recipe for Alfred’s tomato sauce is now available!!!!!

  16. Should be spelled Asunta – one “s” !!

  17. Truthfully…the name is Sunta. The “A” came about because it means “to” and somehow got added on.


  1. […] My great grandmother, Assunta, made pasta dough with the strength of a hundred Italian sailors. Mom, just a kid then, was not allowed to touch. Instead she was told to sit quietly and watch. She remembers how, as Assunta rolled the dough thinner and thinner, it gradually swallowed up the table and heavy oil cloth covering. Eventually, all you could see was the giant sheet of dough – thin enough for spaghetti, linguine, tortellini or – as was typically the case – ravioli. […]

  2. […] made his spinach & pork ravioli for Italy and, today, we continue to keep Alfred’s memory alive with this […]

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