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Italian-Canadian Woman Writes Cookbook to Honor her Nonna – Proceeds Go To Food Banks

As this pandemic doesn't seem to be getting any better, Elena Iacono has spent her free time recreating her Nonna Ma's recipes in her new cookbook in hopes to honor her late grandmother and help food banks.

If you have lost a loved one during this pandemic then you understand the heartache of not having a proper funeral service in your loved one’s honor. Elena Iacono however has honored her Nonna Ma,’ Maria Dicembre Canci in an even more memorable way with a cookbook of all her Nonna’s Italian recipes.

“My grandmother died in April 2020 during the thick of the pandemic” Elena wrote on her website, “I’ve been replicating her cherished recipes to work through the grief. Sharing good food with family and friends was something my grandmother loved very much. She also loved Canada so fiercely – a country that gave her so much.”

Photo by elenaiacono.com

Most of the recipes in “My Nonna Ma’s Kitchen are regional staples from Vasto, the southern Abruzzo city on Italy’s Adriatic coast.  

Just to give you a taste, Elena has shared her nonnas ravioli con spinaci e formaggio recipe!

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups fresh ricotta
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • Half tsp salt

Ingredients for Pasta dough

  • 2 cups type ’00’ flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Whisk eggs in a small bowl. Sift flour onto cool, flat surface. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Add eggs, oil, and salt to the well. Start combing the flour into the egg mixture slowly.
  2. Once the dough begins to form, knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, coat with a dab of olive oil and wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes before using a rolling pin to give it a light roll. Run it through a pasta maker. Make four sheets of pasta, about two feet long and four inches wide.
  3. Wash and steam spinach. Let cool. In a large bowl combine all filling ingredients.
  4. Scoop out some of the cheese mixture and gently place on the fresh dough, about one inch apart from each scoop, and about half an inch from the edge of the dough. You’ll be folding the dough over, creating a blanket effect.
  5. With a ravioli knife, cut each individual piece and pat around the cheese filling to pack everything into place. Use a fork to seal each side of the ravioli. 
  6. Cook immediately by dropping into boiling water. The pasta is ready once they start to float. Serve with tomato sauce.

Elena has raised over $16,000 in donations to Food Banks Canada from her cookbook.



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