Monday, 25 May 2015

Seven meals with Giovanni Rana's pasta sauces

Leek & mushroom pie

Giovanni Rana is a well known Italian brand of fresh chilled pasta. It is synonymous with authentic, classic Italian dishes, which you can so easily recreate in the comfort of your own kitchen. To offer a perfect pairing of fresh pasta and pasta sauce, Giovanni Rana have expanded a range of its Italian flavours by adding six new pasta sauces to their Simply Italian and Italian Indulgence range.

If you visit my blog regularly, you would know how much we enjoy the Italian cuisine. I often cook Italian meals, though I am yet to master the art of making my own pasta from scratch.
But then, even in Italy nowadays, the homemade pasta is often bought from the dedicated pasta-makers. My mother-in-law doesn't make her own pasta, but buys it from a little pasta shop in the neighbourhood.
And though I can make my own pasta sauce, and I often do, life is sometimes too hectic to spend hours in the kitchen. Open the fridge, and choose a pasta sauce from Giovanni Rana, especially that the selection of pasta sauces is inspired. I recently received a full range of new sauces from Giovanni Rana, and was asked to test them in a series of meals (anything but pasta). And here is a week of meals, where I used the different fresh sauces.

Lemon sole in tomato and basil sauce

Lemon sole in tomato sauce
2 fillets of lemon sole
2tbsp olive oil
a handful of baby tomatoes
1 red pepper, sliced lengthways
1 tub of Giovanni Rana Simply Italian Tomato & basil pasta sauce
a handful of green olives
Place two fillets of lemon sole in a deep ceramic dish, slightly oiled. Scatter baby tomatoes on top, as well as a sliced sweet pepper. Season well. Pour the tomato and basil sauce over the fish and vegetables. Bake at 180C for about 20 minutes. Add the olives in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Serve hot, with salad.

Simply Italian Tomato & Basil sauce is a classic combination of flavours - sweet tomatoes, subtle peppery basil, extra virgin olive oil. Perfect as a base for any pasta dish, or a pizza.

Lemon sole in tomato and basil sauce

Squash risotto with crispy sage was cooked with a delicate and flavourful Simply Italian Butter & sage sauce. This is probably my most favourite sauce from the range. It is simple yet sophisticated, velvety-smooth and creamy. Pure indulgence. This risotto could also be cooked with porcini mushroom sauce, or creamy carbonara sauce.

Squash risotto with crispy sage

Pesto sauce is another favourite of ours. I buy both fresh and jarred varieties. It is a versatile ingredient, which could be used in a wide range of recipes. This time I used it in a all-in-one chicken and sweet potato tray bake, a kind of meal, where you chuck in all the ingredients and put in the oven.

Chicken and sweet potato in pesto sauce

Chicken and sweet potato in pesto sauce
400g chicken fillets
2 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
3tbsp olive oil
sea salt
1 tub of Giovanni Rana pesto sauce
wedges of lemon
1 head of garlic

Cut the chicken fillets into thin strips, and the sweet potatoes into wedges (with the skin on). Pour the olive oil over the chicken and sweet potatoes, and arrange both in a deep ceramic dish or roasting tray. Season well, Scatter the garlic cloves and squeeze some lemon juice over. Pour the contents of the pesto sauce over the meat and vegetables. Roast at 180C for 35+ minutes, until cooked.
Serve hot with a salad.

Simply Italian Pesto sauce is a classic dressing for pasta, a base for many Italian dishes like pizza, salads and antipasti. It is made with basil, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts and hard cheese. For a fuss-free dinner, just swirl a generous spoonful into a bowl of pasta like spaghetti or trofie, grate a bit of parmesan or grana over the pasta, and imagine yourself in Italy.

Chicken and sweet potato in pesto sauce

For leek & mushroom pie I used the Italian Indulgence Cream with Hard Picked Porcini Mushroom sauce. I used plain chestnut mushrooms, and the porcini sauce has added an extra oomph and flavour to this easy recipe.

Leek & mushroom pie

Leek and mushroom pie
2 medium leeks, about 250g
3tbsp olive oil
300g chestnut mushrooms
1tsp dried basil.
1 tub of Giovanni Rana porcini mushroom and cream (250g)
puff pastry (I used Jus-Rol puff pastry sheet, 320g)
Chop the leeks and mushrooms, and cook in a deep frying pan with the olive oil. Season well. Sprinkle with the dried basil or oregano. Add a tub of porcini mushroom and cream sauce.
Cut the ready-made pastry into two discs, one slightly larger. place the bigger one inside a pie dish, and bake for about 10 minutes before taking out and filling with a mix of mushrooms and leeks. Top up with a smaller circle of pastry, which has incisions on it for the steam to escape.
Cook at 190C for 15+ minutes, until the pastry is golden.
Serve hot with a dollop of the soured cream.

Italian Indulgence Cream with Hand Picked Porcini mushroom sauce is made with champignon mushrooms, porcini mushrooms (17%), cream, onion, white wine, full fat hard cheese, parsley, garlic and more. This will be a good base sauce for the mushroom risotto.

Leek & mushroom pie

These sauces could be added to a lot of side dishes as well, like fennel in tomato and basil sauce.

Fennel in tomato sauce

Fennel in tomato sauce
2 fennels about 430g
2tbsp olive oil
1 medium tomato
1tub of Simply Italian Tomato & basil pasta sauce
sea salt, pepper
(a side dish for sausages)
Slice the fennel thinly and place in a baking/roasting dish with a dash of the olive oil. Slice the tomato and put over the fennel. Empty the contents of the tomato and basil sauce over the fennel. Season with sea salt and pepper. Roast at 180C for half an hour or so.

Fennel in tomato sauce

One more side dish - potato gratin, cooked with Simply Italian Butter & Sage sauce.

Potato gratin

Potato gratin
2 medium potatoes
2tbsp olive oil
sea salt
1 tub of Giovanni Rana Butter and sage pasta sauce
3tbsp milk
50g Cheddar cheese, grated

Peel the potatoes and thinly slice. Arrange layers in a gratin dish, slightly oiled. Season well each layer. Empty the contents of the pasta sauce over the potatoes. I have slightly thinned the sauce with milk, to make it more runny. Bake for half an hour at 180C. Sprinkle some grated Cheddar in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
I served it with the chicken breasts wrapped in prosciutto (with sage leaves tucked under the ham).

And the third side dish made with Giovanni Rana sauce is one of my staple recipes, variations of which I cook weekly - stuffed peppers. I use different kinds of rice, and different fillings like herbs, sweetcorn, peas, minced meat etc. This time I mixed the pre-cooked rice with Simply Italian Sun Ripened Tomato & Mascarpone sauce to go with the hake, cooked in banana leaves (courtesy of M&S Dine for two offer).

Sweet peppers stuffed with rice
Depending on the amount of peppers you want to use (a half is enough as a side dish for one), use 3tbsp of cooked rice mixed with 3tbsp of tomato and mascarpone sauce for each pepper ( so about half of the mix for each half).
This thick sauce, with its wonderful mix of flavours from creamy mascarpone to sweet tomatoes, will be fantastic with pasta.

I still haven't tried Italian Indulgence Creamy Carbonara Sauce, so watch this space for more recipes and recipe suggestions.

Alison from Dragons and Fairy Dust has cooked a delicious Chicken and bacon Tortelloni Salad, perfect for a dinner in the garden, weather permitted.

What would you cook with this range of pasta sauces?

Disclosure: I received a selection of Giovanni Rana products as well as some vouchers to buy the ingredients. All opinions are mine.


  1. I love that pie! All the recipes look delicious but the pie takes the prize.

  2. Love the pie! I am not keen on fennel so will skip that one but loving the rest, especially the lemon sole