Spinach Anolini

This is the final pasta ripieni (stuffed pasta) from The Pasta Project. I used two recipes: the first is from The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570) and the second is from The Art of Cooking; The First Modern Cookery Book written by The Eminent Maestro Martino of Como in 1465 (1).

I would like to mention that in 15th & 16th century cooking manuscripts, any filling could be used for any pasta. There are several recipes in Scappi that tell you that a filling could be used for any sort of torte or ravioli or even without a “casing”. In Queen Anna’s New World of Words by John Florio, an Italian to English dictionary printed in 1611 (2), he tells us that ravioli is basically a generic term meaning ” a bundle, a cradle, a folding up”. This means that any time we read a historical cooking manuscript, when we see a ravioli, it means that it is any shaped and filled pasta that you want to make.

While ravioli is any generic filled pasta, we also see tortellini and anolini which Scappi differentiates by giving instructions for shaping them and  John Florio tells us that aniline is a diminutive of anello meaning “a small ring”. Scappi describes anolini as “tiny like haricot beans or chickpeas, with their little edges overlapping so they look like cappelletti. So back to john Florio and a cappelletti is “any kind of chaplet or little hat”.


Original Recipe (3)

178. Book II

“Per far tortelletti con pancia di porco, & altre materie dal nullo chiamate annolini

…..e come sara fattatel compositione babbiasi un sfoglio di pasta futto come il sopradeiso, e faccianosi gli anolini piccioli come faggiuolio ceci, e congiunti con li lar pizzetti in modo che siano vennuti a foggia di cappelletti, e quando faranno fatti lascinosi riposare al quanto, e cuocanosi in buon brodo di carne, e servanosi cum cascio, zuccaro, e cannella sopra…..”

Translation (4)

“….When the mixture is made up, get a sheet of dough made as above and with it make tiny anolini like haricot beans or chickpeas, with their little edges overlapping so they look like cappelletti, and cook in good meat broth, and serve with cheese, sugar, and cinnamon on top….”

Original Recipe (3)

179. Book II

“Per far minestra di tortelletti d’herba alla Lombarda

 Piglinosi hiete, o spinacci, taglinosi minute, e lovinosi in piu acque, e strucchisi fuori l’acqua, faccianosi soffriggere con butiro fresco, e con esse ponasi a bollie una brancata d’herbe odorifere, e caninosi, e ponganosi in un vaso di terra o di rame stagnato, e giungauisi cascio parmeggiano grattato, e cascio grasso, dell’uno quanto dell’altro , e pepe, cannella, garofani, zafferano, una passa & uoue crude a bastanza; e se la compositione folle troppo liquida pongauisi pan grattato, ma se sara treppo soda, mettauisi un poco piu di butiro, & babbiasi un sfoglio di pasta fatta mel modo che dice nel e. 176. e faccianosi i tortelletti piccioli, e gradi, sace doli cuocer in buon brodo di carne, e servanosi con cascio, zuccaro, e cannella sopra.”

Translation (4)

“To make soup of herbed tortelletti in the style of Lombard

Take chard or spinach, chop it up small and wash it in several changes of water. Press the water out of it, saute it in fresh butter and set it to boil with a handful of aromatic herbs. Take that out and put it in an earthenware or tinned copper pot, adding in grated Parmesan cheese and a creamy cheese in the same amount, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, saffron, raisins and enough raw eggs. If that mixture is too moist, put in grated bread; if too dry, a little more butter. Have a sheet of dough made up the way that is directed in recipe 176 and make tortellini of various sizes, cooking them in a good meat broth. Serve them garnished with cheese, sugar and cinnamon.”


My Redaction

Click here for the dough recipe


Please note: The below amounts have already been reduced.

  • 4oz Spinach
  • 4oz Parmesan Cheese
  • 4oz Ricotta Cheese
  • Butter
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 1-2 threads of Saffron
  • 1 tsp. Mint, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. Cloves
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of Raisins, depending on your preference, ground in a mortar.
  • 2 or more eggs
  • 1 tsp. fresh Marjoram, chopped fine

Wash the spinach and dry it completely. Chop the spinach, mint and marjoram finely. Add them to a small amount of butter and the saffron and sautè them until soft and cooked. Cool completely.

Put spinach mixture into a bowl or food processor and add remaining ingredients using only one egg to start and adding a second if mixture needs it. If using a food processor you can add the raisins whole.

     Keep in mind that the total amount of filling used for one anolini is a scant 1/8 teaspoon so the mixture must be homogenous. While a food processor makes life considerably easier, you will get better results grinding things in a mortar.

Roll the pasta dough (by hand or with a machine) until pretty thin. Cut out small rounds, we used the cap from a rosewater bottle. It was somewhere between a nickel and a quarter in size.

Take a scant 1/8 teaspoon of the filling and place in the center of each round. Barely wet half of the edges and then close it up, pressing the edges firmly to seal. You should have something that looks like a small half circle. Gently wrap this tiny half circle around  the tip of your finger and press the ends together.

Anolini wrap

You should wind up with something resembling the picture below.

Final anolini



  1. Florio, John. Queen Anna’s New World of Words (1611). Scholar Press. 1973. Print.
  2. Como, The Emminent Maestro Martino of.  The Art of Cooking: The First Modern Cookery Book. 1465. 14 ed. by Luigi Ballerini, translated and annotated by Jeromy Parzen., Regents of the University of California, 2005. Print.
  3. https://archive.org/details/operavenetiascap00scap/page/n155. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  4. Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi, The. (1570) Trans. Terrence Scully. Toronto Canada. University of Toronto Press. 2008. Print.

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