Unlike most pasta names (which describe the shape) agnolotti apparently pay homage to their inventor, a chef named Angelot from the Piedmontese town of Montferrato. They are squares or crescents of egg pasta filled with a stuffing made from meat (pork, beef, chicken, sausage or rabbit. If they are folded into rectangles, they become agnolotti al plin ('pinched'). These are always handmade; click here or here to see how.
Because the filling is so rich, the traditional sauce is usually just some of the beef juices combined with melted butter. Or perhaps sage and melted butter. Porcini mushrooms are good, too.
To some, if you put something that's not meat inside of them, they are no longer agnolotti— you have to call them ravioli instead. Even so, on the other side of Italy in Friuli, they make a kind of cialzon call agnolotti carnici, filled with spinach (or plums and pears), raisins, unsweetened cocoa or chocolate, lemon zest, nutmeg, cinnamon, eggs and sugar, then layered with smoked ricotta (a speciality of Carnia) butter, sugar and cinnamon.
The Sagra del Nibiö e del Superagnolotto in Tassarolo (Piedmont), celebrates the local wines and angolotti in style with music and dancing in June.
Images by: Whitney