About this dish

  • Serves: 2
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Method: oven

“kap-el-eh-tee”: Italian for ‘little hat’, these are a filled pasta that look like little hats.

In my family, we have capelletti for Christmas and Easter dinners, in lieu of the more American turkey/ham/lamb feasts. I got the recipe from my mother, who I think got it from my father’s mother. It was a recipe of her family, and my father’s Aunt Dorothy used to serve them in chicken soup. My family served them with tomato sauce, typically.

WARNING: these are probably the most work of all the pastas on my website! There’s a *reason* we have them only twice a year!

Ingredients (makes 500)

  • 3/4 lb ground round (use sirloin for lower fat, with a little less taste)
  • 1/2 lb ground veal (you might substitute ground turkey here)
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 TBS nutmeg
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste (we use Contadina, but NOT “seasoned”)
  • parsley flakes (a handful, e.g., 1/8 cup)
  • 1/4 lb butter (margarine is OK)
  • 2 eggs (egg beaters work)
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano (e.g., Locatelli)
  • salt & black pepper (to taste)


  • pasta making equipment
  • 2″ circle cutter (a donut cutter works or clean 12-oz can with the top removed)


First make the filling. Doing this the day before spreads out the work, and lets the filling cool making it easier to work with. It also helps the flavors meld.

NOTE: you CAN freeze the filling.

NOTE: the filling is tasty on its own. You can cook it a little more with some tomato sauce, and use it for bolognese (leave out the eggs, in that case, though – they’re to make the filling stay in a ball). You can also stir it into chicken soup. But the real treat is the filled pasta…

Place butter in large frying pan, heat until melted. Add mix of meat and spices. Saute until pinkish – DO NOT BROWN.

Add tomato paste (as is) & simmer until consistent.

Let cool for 10 mins, then add 2 beaten eggs and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (adding eggs if too hot will scramble them). DO NOT cook further.

Refrigerate several hours (or better, overnight).

Now make the pasta, as per our recipe. Make a typical 6-egg batch. Do this the day you assemble the final product.

Roll pasta, cut into 2″ diameter circles (we use a donut cutter with the ‘hole’ cutter taken out, i.e., as you would use to make jelly donuts). Put 1/2 teaspoon of mix in the center (DO NOT OVERFILL. 1/2 teaspoon is plenty), fold the circle in half, and seal by pinching. Then bring the two corners of the half-circle around and make into a hat shape by pinching around the brim. If you do this right, the brim will turn upward a little. Place on flour-dusted cookie sheet.

Cook in a *large* amount of boiling salted water – when the dough is cooked, they’re ready (about 5 min after they float).

Serve in chicken broth, or with tomato sauce. Either way, MILDLY SEASONED. If you do all this work, you’ll want to taste the filling, not the sauce. E.g., use our sauce recipe, using pork butt/bone for the meat base.

They freeze very well for up to a year.