Christmas Treats: Cappelletti

December 16, 2013 / Food & Wine

Different cultures have unique ways of ringing in the holiday season, and in Umbria ladies across the region gather around their kitchen tables come December to pass the long winter afternoons until Christmas day making cappelletti.

cappelletti 005

These meat-filled pasta shapes are the centerpiece of the traditional pranzo di Natale (Christmas lunch), and hands fly as fast as tongues (the pasta-making sessions often produce just as much juicy gossip as tasty morsels) as the ladies form small balls of filling — a mixture of cooked veal, pork, and chicken, ground and flavored with grated parmesan cheese, nutmeg, and lemon peel—and place them in the center of small squares of cut from sheets of hand-rolled egg pasta.

cappelletti 003
cappelletti 012

They expertly fold the squares around the filling, making a small triangle, then neatly roll and pinch the triangles closed until they form the tiny hat shape for which they are named.

Served in a piping hot an orange-infused meat broth as a first course, it’s easy to overindulge on the bite-sized cappelletti. Knowing this, most Umbrian housewives make at least a few hundred little hats in an afternoon, most to be consumed on Christmas day but some to be frozen and served as a soul-warming soup on cold winter nights.

cappelletti 032

Like so much of Umbria’s culinary tradition, cappelletti are as much about the socialization that happens both during their preparation and during their consumption as they are about the dish itself. If you’d like to try your hand at making them this Christmas season, you can find a recipe here.

cappelletti 043

Rebecca Winke

by Rebecca Winke

Owner of Brigolante Apartments, a restored 16th century stone farmhouse / guesthouse in the heart of Umbria near Assisi, and blogger of life in Umbria. For tips and insider information about visiting Umbria, download her Umbria Slow App and see her writings on her personal website!

11 Responses to “Christmas Treats: Cappelletti”

  1. Toni DeBella

    Rebecca….how many cappelletti will you be making this holiday? Great note about an Umbrian tradition that I just learned about last week and hope to participate in in the coming years (if I can find some ladies who don’t mind having a novice making sloppy versions). Auguri Rebecca!

  2. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    It is said you must fill the table twice
    so as to have enough time for chiacchiera

  3. Richard A Furia

    I would love to make the capplelettis
    Any chance in getting the recipe???

    Buon Natale

  4. Gian Banchero

    Wow, grazie per la ricetta Rebecca… The photo of the women at the table brought back memories from my youth in both the States and in Italy, it not only reminded me of the wonderful sounds of the family’s women in conversation and laughter but also the security of being with elders who afforded endless love to me and my siblings… and their MYTHIC strong hands that would magically create food that would always make us young ones feel that all was OK in the universe. Yes, MYTHIC!!
    My mother and Nonne when making stuffed pastas would always put an egg wash over the dough before stuffing and sealing the packets thus having a perfect seal. Buon natale!

  5. Paula (Giangreco) Cullison

    Grazie! I can taste them now :-)
    It was good to see the next generation learning the techniques.
    Buon Natale!

  6. Rosemary

    You have made my mouth water! Where’s the recipe for these tasty morsels?? Grazie. This reminded me of my mother and aunt who would cook for days preparing for Christmas dinner. Lasagna was the meal of choice in our home. Along with enough food to feed anyone who happened to drop by!

  7. Janet Eidem

    Your article and the recipe were both very enjoyable reading. I’d love to try making the pasta, but can you tell me what an “hg” of flour means?

  8. Ginny Siggia

    What time does dinner start? I can just make the overnight flight to Rome. Ahh … I wish it were so. My Italian mother-in-law’s mother made something like this but I didn’t understand the connection at the time.

  9. Donald Civitella

    How timely. My wife and I just finished making 399 cappelletti today. A yearly ritual carried over from her family who were from Emilia-Romagna. They’ll be served at various times during the Holidays in homemade chicken brodo. I can’t believe how
    these pictures depict exactly our kitchen set-up as we made them. Including the big round sheet of hand rolled pasta, the ball of filling, the classic shape and the big pasta board. A nice tradition as well as delicious eating. Buon Natale!


Leave a Reply