Easy weeknight dinner Syrian jewish recipes ravioli
Photo credit Sylvia Fallas

This Syrian Cheese Ravioli Is the Ultimate Jewish Comfort Food

A quick and easy twist on kelsones.

Kelsones is probably the most unique dish in the Syrian dairy repertoire. Ravioli are stuffed with cheese, hand pinched and boiled. They’re simmered along with egg noodles, topped with a hefty amount of butter, and baked until crispy, chewy and golden. 

Kelsones is the calling card of Shavuot, where elaborate celebratory dairy meals are served. Many men in my Syrian community in Brooklyn have the tradition of staying awake throughout the first night of the holiday to learn Torah. As they walk home after morning prayers, the smell of buttery kelsones drifts through the air. This dish is perfect before a long afternoon (or morning!) nap. 

Handmade ravioli is a labor of love. I remember being a little girl, watching my grandmother stretch out huge sheets of dough across her kitchen table. Her battered ravioli cutter flew through the dough, stamping out circles. Each circle was stuffed with a golden cheese mixture, pinched shut and carefully placed on a tray. Cutting and stuffing were reserved for grandma  — but pinching was a task for my small hands. 

Over the years, our community has grown, and the components of the dish have become readily available. Ravioli dough is now available precut and frozen. Muenster cheese can be purchased shredded in large bags. I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like carbs on cheesy carbs — and lucky for them this dish is now served in community schools and is a lunchbox staple.

Something that was so special to me as a child is now a Tuesday lunch for my kids. I still shuttle them over to grandma pre-Shavuot so they can help make the ravioli. But, as a working mom, I’m glad they have my quick version whenever they want it! 

Notes: 

  • Mazor’s dough company makes prepared ravioli dough. Defrost slightly before pinching closed to avoid cracks in the dough. Wonton wrappers can be used if these are not available. 
  • The ravioli can be prepared ahead of time and frozen on a sheet tray. Once solid, transfer to a Ziploc bag. They’re best boiled from frozen, so no need to defrost them.
  • A Pyrex or other 9×13 glass baking dish is preferred so the browning can be monitored. The hallmark of this dish is the super crisp brown bottom! 
  • You can prepare the dish (steps 1-5) 1-2 days ahead and reheat tightly covered with aluminium foil.

This article was produced as part of The Nosher’s Jewish Food Fellows Program, which aims to diversify the voices telling Jewish food stories in media spaces. 

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Syrian Jewish recipes easy pasta dinner Shavuot
Photo credit Sylvia Fallas

Kelsones (Syrian Cheese Ravioli)

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A beloved childhood comfort food made easy with store-bought shortcuts.

  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8

Ingredients

For the ravioli: 

  • 36 ravioli or wonton wrappers, defrosted
  • 1 lb shredded Muenster or mozzarella cheese
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder

To assemble: 

  • 16 oz wide or extra-wide egg noodles
  • 1 stick butter

Instructions

  1. Start by making the ravioli. Crack the egg into a mixing bowl and whisk lightly. Add the cheese, salt and baking powder, and stir to coat.
  2. Lay the ravioli or wonton wrappers out on a clean countertop. Place a spoonful of the cheese mixture in the center of each circle of dough. Fold into a half moon shape and pinch to seal, pressing out any air bubbles. (If using wonton wrappers, gently run a damp finger around the edge to make sure the dough sticks to itself.)
  3. Partially unwrap the stick of butter and grease a Pyrex or other 9×13 glass baking dish.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  5. Add the egg noodles to the boiling, salted water and stir. When the noodles have 5 minutes left to cook, add in the ravioli. Stir again and cook until ravioli floats, about 5 minutes. Drain and add to the buttered pan. Cube the remaining butter and scatter over the top of the noodles. At this point, the dish can be covered and refrigerated until ready to bake. (You can do this 1-2 days ahead of time and reheat tightly covered with foil.)
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until the center is warmed through and the edges begin to crisp.
  7. Carefully remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes — the sides and top will have dark crispy bits. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Mazor’s dough company makes prepared ravioli dough, available at many kosher grocery stores. Defrost slightly before pinching closed to avoid cracks in the dough. Wonton wrappers can be used if these are not available. 
  • The ravioli can be prepared ahead of time and frozen on a sheet tray. Once solid, transfer to a Ziploc bag. 
  • A Pyrex or other 9×13 glass baking dish is preferred so the browning can be monitored. The hallmark of this dish is the super crisp brown bottom!
  • You can prepare the dish (steps 1-5) 1-2 days ahead and reheat tightly covered with aluminium foil.
  • Author: Sylvia Fallas
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Quick
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian

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