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..........It's Just That Simple!

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Why a PINK chef's coat?

Simply put, I carry my Dad's legacy with me through my cookbook, cooking and everyday I am writing my food columns, he is always with me. I carry my Mom with me through a silent reminder of her struggle with breast cancer that took her life, as well as the lives of many other women who have dealt with, and are still dealing with, this horrible affliction. Besides, why not pink? It makes a man look good!
Giovanni Rana Products


And I do mean that in the most pleasant way. I am in the middle of culinary rapture, yet I have only begun my journey with Rana products. There are just so many ways I want to prepare all the pastas and sauces and would love to do nothing but cook 24/7 with these great products, but I must limit and blindly choose what to give you folks. This week, I dug into my new favorite, at least until I tear open the other bags. And that, my friends, is Giovanni's Artichoke Ravioli.

One thing I must tell you first is the bag size. After comparing other ravioli products in the supermarket today, Rana has it nailed. A 12-ounce FULL bag of ravioli! Perfect for 2 hungry people or if you are having sides along with these stuffed pasta's(or you're not a Yankee), then 3 people can eat comfortably. After all, waste not, want not!

I am about to show you several ways you can enjoy this superior product(and many thanks go out to Giovanni Rana as well as Lisa at Baltz and Company) not only using ravioli but 2 other perfect products. And those would be Rana's Marinara Sauce and Pesto. Let me say a couple of words first about these two items, then I promise we will start cooking.

The marinara sauce.

I originally had purchased a few fresh tomatoes to add to the marinara sauce, thinking it was going to be yet, another, one of those "authentic" sauces that has the consistency of thick water, no substance to it at all. So when I opened up the airtight seal of Giovanni Rana's Marinara Sauce, I was blown away. The first thing that hit me was the instant aroma of tomatoes. It was almost as if those little red veggies were just waiting to burst out of its' container. I immediately grabbed a spoon, dug in and I couldn't believe it. Marinara sauce with substance. And I don't mean just any substance, chopped tomatoes were holding the entire sauce together. Tasting it only converted me further with its' perfect seasonings and robust Italian flavor, I will now be, and always be, a Rana fan, and as my children would say.....Nuff said!

Now with the pesto sauce. You are truly going to think I am biased by the time I am done, but I can only assure you I am a Yankee. And as the above sentence states.....Nuff said! WE don't sell out period! I was always told by the second Yankee Chef(my Dad) never to say anything bad. Just don't say anything at all. So in other words, every single item I have received from Giovanni will be represented here. I have left nothing out. I simply have had not one negative comment about any pasta or sauce that has crossed my tongue throughout this entire experimental venture, and that includes the most aromatic pesto sauce on the market. Again, It resembles homemade so much, it would rival any other pesto made by any other chef, hands down. And I will proudly take those words with me as I jump from one national show to another within the next few months. So with all that said, let's cook as promised.

Pot Sticker Ravioli with Marinara Dipping Sauce

I have taken the liberty of fusing two great cultures together, Asian and Italian. And the result of these two culinary behemoths came out extraordinarily well. I treated these great tasting Artichoke Ravioli's as if I were in any Asian restaurant and cooked them as you would pot stickers. True potstickers that is. I grilled them on one side and simmered this delicate filled pasta on the other. And for the accompaniment? I simply warmed up the best marinara sauce money can buy and that's it! Why muddle it up?

For a second variation on the theme, I combined the great basil flavor of Rana's Pesto Sauce and added a couple unique ingredients to accent those vegetable "dumplings" even further. Truly 2 great tastes.

12 ounce bag of Giovanni Rana Artichoke Ravioli
1 cup vegetable broth
Nonstick cooking spray
1(15-ounce) container Giovanni Rana Marinara Sauce(no other brand please-trust me)

Place marinara sauce in a small saucepan over low heat and warm up while making the Ravioli Pot Stickers. Spray a large skillet liberally with nonstick cooking spray. Place over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add as many ravioli's as possible without overlapping. Cook 2-3 minutes or until well browned and crispy. Add the vegetable broth and immediately start flipping over each ravioli.

Cover and let steam for 1 minute. Remove from heat and transfer ravioli, crispy side up, onto serving platter. Serve with side of warmed Rana's Marinara sauce.

Try these great tasting Asian-inspired ravioli's with White Pesto Dip

1/4 cup Giovanni Rana Pesto
1 cup low-fat Ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, blend very well and heat thoroughly over medium until well incorporated and warmed through. Transfer to a dipping bowl and why wait?

Roasted Ravioli and Vegetable Salad
Simply roasted and prepared, this crispy, crunchy salad will leave you filled as well as feeling great. The natural sweet tastes of the vegetables combined with the pungent Pesto Vinaigrette compliment each other like Mario Lanza and his dimple.

5 ounces mixed greens
12 ounces frozen or canned, cooked, whole baby beets
7 ounces frozen or canned sweet white corn kernels
8 ounces fresh asparagus, trimmed
Rana's Pesto Vinaigrette, recipe below

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Make Pesto Vinaigrette and keep chilled while preparing remainder of recipe. If using canned beets or corn, drain well. If using frozen beets or corn, thaw. Cut asparagus into 2-inch segments. Place beets in a baking pan or pie tin and ravioli in another baking pan. Roast each for 12-13 minutes, or until ravioli is crispy. Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. Place over medium-high heat and when hot, add the asparagus and corn. Toss and cook until asparagus is crisp tender, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Divide the greens among 3 serving plates. top each with equal amounts of crispy ravioli, beets, corn and asparagus. Drizzle Pesto Vinaigrette over the top and serve immediately.

Rana's Pesto Vinaigrette Dressing

1 cup Giovanni Rana Pesto
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor or blender bowl, add the pesto, vinegar and lemon juice. Pulse on high until well combined, about 5 seconds. While running, slowly add the oil in a thin stream until all oil has been added. Stop pulsing and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Crunchy Artichoke Ravioli with Tomato Mascarpone Dip
You want crunch? Use panko bread crumbs here. When you get the first crispy bite, you will never go back to using other dried bread crumbs on the market.

1(12-ounce) bag of Giovanni Rana Artichoke Ravioli
3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
1 teaspoon minced garlic in oil
2 cups Panko bread crumbs*
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
Tomato Mascarpone Dip, recipe below

Preheat oven to 375-degrees F. Place Panko bread crumbs in a large bowl:set aside. Combine melted butter and garlic in a bowl and stir. Let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, spread ravioli on a clean baking pan without overlapping. Brush each with the butter/garlic mixture on both sides. With 4-5 ravioli's at a time, toss in the bread crumbs until evenly coated, placing back onto baking pan. Repeat with remainder of ravioli. Bake 12-13 minutes without turning, or until crispy but not browned. Remove from oven and serve immediately with Tomato Mascarpone Dip.

Tomato Mascarpone Dip

1(15-ounce) container Giovanni Rana Marinara Sauce
1 1/4 cup Mascarpone cheese

In a small saucepan, add marinara sauce and cheese, cook and stir over medium-low heat until blended well and hot. Remove from heat, transfer to bowl and serve.

*Or use any dried or fresh bread crumbs you desire.

Plump Ravioli with Easy Pesto "Cream" Sauce
This just may be the easiest of all Italian dishes I have played with using Giovanni Rana products. If you can't find the few minutes out of your day making this recipe, then my name is not The Yankee Chef.

1(12-ounce) package Giovanni Artichoke Ravioli
Easy Pesto "Cream" Sauce, recipe below
3 ounces fresh Pecorino cheese, crumbled or grated

Cook ravioli according to package directions, drain well. Make sauce. Add ravioli to sauce and simmer 3 minutes, reducing heat to low. Divide evenly among 3 serving plates and sprinkle top of each serving plate with Pecorino cheese. Serve immediately.

Easy Pesto "Cream" Sauce

1 cup skim milk
4 ounces low-fat ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Giovanni Rana Pesto Sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1(8-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, julienned
Salt and black pepper to taste

Add milk, cheese, pesto sauce and red pepper flakes to a medium saucepan and whisk together well. Add julienned bell peppers and place over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for 6-7 minutes, or until heated through. Adjust for seasonings.

 

The Yankee Chef™
 ..........It's Just That Simple!