In March, I had the opportunity to visit Verona, Italy and spend time with pasta company Giovanni Rana. The company, which sells refrigerated pasta in the US and number of other countries, has a long history of making some of the best ravioli in town.
While you might associate refrigerated pasta with a casual, maybe medium-quality meal, over the few days I spent with them they taught me that it can be a whole lot more. And you can do a ton more with that cheese ravioli in your fridge than just pour some marinara sauce over it.
During my pasta education, one afternoon we stopped by Verona’s Masi winery. There, the winery explained how to pair its wines (many of which are readily available in the US) with pasta to create something truly magical.
Below are some of the wine and pasta pairings we tried (using the four bottles pictured above), explanations on why the wine was the best choice for that pasta, and perhaps more importantly, recipes for how to elevate your pasta and take your refrigerated pasta game to the next level.
Artichoke Ravioli, with pumpkin blossoms, Scampi and Jerusalem Artichoke Chips
Wine: Bonacosta Valpolicella Classico DOC
From Masi: This is a young wine characterized by simplicity and a well-balanced acidity note, therefore it is suitable for a dish where the artichoke freshness makes the scampi flavor stand out. Topinambur chips are used as garnishment, giving crispness and toasted notes to the dish.
1 package Giovanni Rana Artichoke Ravioli
1 Tsp EVO olive oil
1.8 oz Artichoke Wedges Preserved in Oil
1 oz Pumpkin Blossoms
2 oz Peeled Scampi
1 1/2 Tbsp Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
1 Tbsp Fresh Butter
2.5 oz Fresh Jerusalem Artichoke
Cut Jerusalem Artichokes lengthwise into slices (with a peeler or a truffle slicer), fry them at 329°F until they get golden brown, and then transfer to paper towels on a plate to drain. Cook ravioli in salted boiling water for 3 minutes, in the meanwhile pour olive oil in the skillet, and sauté artichoke wedges, cherry tomatoes and scampi. Drain pasta and add it to the skillet, add pumpkin blossoms and stir in Parmigiano Reggiano and butter. Serve on a plate and garnish with artichoke chips. Add color and freshness to this dish with fresh basil and dill. Buon Appetito.
Cheese Lovers Tortelloni, with White Asparagus and Black Truffle
Wine: Campofiorin Rosso del Veronese IGT
From Masi: We paired a classic combination, white asparagus and black truffle with this double fermentation wine, obtaining a richer, rounder and velvety taste, which marry beautifully with truffle aromas.
1 package Giovanni Rana Cheese Lovers Tortelloni
1 oz Fresh Butter
2.8 oz White Aspargus, cut into slices
2 ¼ Tbsp Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
2 ½ Tbsp Seasonal Black Truffle
Cook tortellini in salted boiling water for 3 minutes, in the meanwhile, melt fresh butter in a skillet and sauté white asparagus cut into slices after searing it. Wait for the pasta to be ready and drain it. Add pasta to the skillet and stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano and truffle flakes. Serve and garnish with fresh seasonal truffle flakes.
Tagliatelle, with Hare Sauce
Wine: Costassero Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Docg
From Masi: The complexity and magnificence of this wine is ideal for a first course of game as hare sauce, which needs a high personality wine to make all the long cooking flavors stand out.
1 Package Giovanni Rana Tagliatelle
10.6 oz Hare Sauce
2 ¼ Tbsp Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
Hare Sauce Ingredients:
2 oz Carrots
1.4 oz Onions
24.7 oz Boneless Hare Meat
5.3 oz Unsmoked, uncured pork belly
1 ½ Tbsp Red Wine
3 ¼ Tbsp Water
8.8 oz Tomato Puree
0.8 oz Butter + 0.8 Oz Butter
2 Pinches Salt
1 Pinch Pepper
1 Bouquet Garni made of Sage, Laurel and Rosemary
Melt butter in a saucepan and let it heat, then add carrots, onion, celery and let them sear. Once they are ready, add boneless hare meat and unsmoked, uncured pork belly (previously minced) and let it braise for about 10-15 minutes. Pour red wine and let it evaporate, at this point place the bouquet garni in the saucepan to add flavor and aroma to the sauce. Add water, salt, pepper, tomato puree and the remaining butter and let it simmer with a lid on top over low heat for about 5 hours.
Cook tagliatelle in salted boiling water for 1 minute. While pasta is cooking put hare sauce in the pan, drain the pasta, add it to the pan, and toss it with butter. Serve it on a plate garnishing with a spring of rosemary and a drizzle of oil to make the dish shinier. Buon Appetito.
Crispy Panettone Ravioli with Recioto Aroma
Wine: Angelorum Recioto della Valpolicella Classico Docg
From Masi: It is a velvety wine, with a full, delicate and sweet flavor which, together with its raisins aroma, makes it a perfect match for this kind of dessert.
8.8 oz Panettone
3 ½ Tbsp Heavy Cream
1 ¾ Tbsp Recioto Wine
6.17 Oz Mascarpone cheese
24.7 Oz flour
3 ¼ Tbsp water
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, create small balls with the filling using a spoon, place them on the pastry and wet the borders with some water making it easier for the covering sheet of pastry to adhere, the cut out the ravioli with a ravioli stamp. Fry ravioli at 356°F for two minutes, strain them and then transfer to paper towels to drain. Place them in a container of your choice and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and garnish with fresh berries. Buon Appetito!