One of the fun parts of food-blogging is the challenges that you get to try. I was approached by the people who promote Giovanni Rana pasta and sauces here in the UK, to take part in the ‘Make it My Way with Giovanni Rana’ challenge; where bloggers were asked to create recipe hacks for the new range of stir-through pasta sauces. Six sauces – six dishes and I said yes before I realised that it fell during an exceptionally busy month for me. I may be a little late on this task but nevertheless I have made good on my promise and here I have for you three out of my five pasta sauce hacks for Giovanni Rana.
I thought about getting fancy, I thought about going all-out. There was talk of lobster, mussels and all kinds of luxurious ingredients, but then I realised that these are convenience food products, ready-made sauces that you heat up and eat with pasta at the end of a busy day. You get a good hearty meal without feeling as if you’ve dropped the ball by not providing a nutritious meal for the family. So I thought about some ways that you can transform the sauce without going to too much extra hassle – keeping the recipes convenient and yet giving them a spin to add more fresh vegetables and inspiration.
Butter and Sage Potato Bake
Let’s start with the Butter and Sage sauce. I love this flavour and it was not too difficult coming up with this super easy and yet incredibly tasty dish to serve as a side with some grilled meat or as your main, with a side of salad. All you need is a potato, an onion and a pot of creamy Butter and Sage sauce. Slice up your potato wafer thin, and do the same with your onion. Mix the potato, onion and Butter and Sage sauce in a bowl to ensure that all the ingredients are covered in the sauce. Pour the ingredients into an oven-proof dish and cook for about half an hour on 180C or until the top is bubbling and browned and the potatoes are soft.
The best part about this recipe is that you can double or even triple the servings easily by adding more vegetables and more sauce and the results are almost better than anything you could have created with lots more ingredients. You can even get creative and add layers of butter squash for some sweetness.
Bistro Mushrooms on Toast
Mushrooms on toasted brioche or bagel is a quick and easy meal to whip up after a long day at work. All you’ll to do is drop by your local supermarket and grab a packet of mushrooms. The flavour of the Cream with Hand Picked Porcini Mushroom sauce is intense and so if you don’t want to overload on mushroomy-goodness, you might want to stick to button mushrooms for this recipe. Porcini mushrooms are super fragrant, ‘meaty’ mushrooms often used to ‘beef’ up the flavour of risottos and other hearty dishes.
Roughly chop a packet of mushrooms, and some flat leaf parsley. Fry the mushrooms in a very hot pan, seasoning with salt first to help the release the liquid in the mushies. Once the mushrooms are cooked down and browned, add the Cream with Hand Picked Porcini Mushroom sauce and a big dollop of sour cream and the parsley. Simmer until the sauce and mushrooms piping hot. Serve on toasted ciabatta, bagel or whatever you’ve got handy.
Sausage, Pea and Mozzarella Bake
It’s amazing what you can do with a pot of Sun Ripened Tomato and Mascarpone sauce or two. To feed a family of four, you’ll need two pots of this pasta sauce. Grab a packet of sausages – I used a gourmet red wine pork sausage, and pop them in a 180C oven to cook. While you’re waiting for them to brown, boil up half a packet of rigatoni pasta or you could also use ribbed penne or even spaghetti noodles. While you’re waiting for the pasta to cook, defrost some frozen chopped spinach (about 4 pucks) and some petit pois. Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water and then mix the Sun Ripened Tomato and Mascarpone sauce in, along with the spinach and peas. Take the sausages out from the oven and roughly chop them using kitchen scissors. If the pieces get a bit hacked up- all the better for a rustic dish. Stir in the sausage and pour the coated pasta into an oven proof dish. Place mini balls of Mozarella cheese on top of the dish for that extra creamy factor.
This dish is so rich and hearty you’d never know it came together in half and hour. The Sun Ripened Tomato and Mascarpone sauce is flavoursome and yet delicate and sweet without being acidic. If you want to add more or different vegetables to this meal, you could grate in some courgettes or pop in a few florets of blanched broccoli. Comfort food at it’s finest.