After our recent trip to Villa Pia in Umbria, I am completely besotted with the Italian countryside, culture and food (oh the food). I’ll tell you more about our Italy adventures in an upcoming post, but first let me introduce you to Ciao Gusto.
Ciao Gusto is an umbrella group — a family, really — of 30 popular Italian food and drinks companies, all available in the UK via the Ciao Gusto Italian Shop on Ocado. Each member of the Ciao Gusto family has been handpicked for its quality and its heritage, as all of the brands are household names representing Italian food across the globe.
If you fancy a taste of Italy, or if (like me) you fantasise about eating your way across one of the world’s foodie capitals, then Ciao Gusto on Ocado is a good place to start. You’ll find everything from Negroni charcuterie and antipasti, to Cirio Passata Rustica for making a deliciously rich ragu.
Ciao Gusto held a dinner** at Giovanni Rana restaurant to celebrate its launch, and I was lucky enough to be invited, along with fellow bloggers Liz from Me and My Shadow, Mari from Mari’s World, Ruth from Rock n Roller Baby and Becky from Amuse your Bouche. Giovanni Rana is known as the ‘King of Tortellini’ and his restaurant is the home of ‘fresh pasta made daily with love’. He also owns the Giovanni Rana brand of food products, part of Ciao Gusto’s family.
At the sparkling dinner party, we were treated to a traditional Italian feast, including wine and prosecco, tasty appetisers (fried mozzarella, polenta fritters… OMG), cured meat and cheese platters, pasta and risotto courses, and 3 desserts! Our meal included:
A selection of Italian cured meats and cheeses…
Cannelloni with Asparagus, Mozzarella, Tomato and Bechamel sauce…
Dairy free gelato with homemade biscuits…
Everything was so yummy, I couldn’t stop eating even though I felt increasingly stuffed with each course. They practically had to roll me out of there. Mari, who has an Italian connection and spends much of her time visiting family there, was on hand to vouch for the authenticity of the dishes. She was thrilled to discover that the products she likes to use in her Italian recipes are now so easy to find in the UK.
I was highly impressed by the Giovanni Rana staff who handled a large crowd and multiple servings with impeccable timing and grace. I’d like to come back here with the entire Babes crew, especially for chef Rana’s famous tortellini.
The boys are also obsessed with Italian food after our travels and you can picture their faces when Ciao Gusto gifted us with a hamper** of sample products.
What an incredible range of goodies — we have been happily working our way through it.
The hamper contained a packet of Giovanni Rana Ravioli with Spinach and Ricotta, which they served at the dinner with a surprising but sensational twist of Amalfi lemon, garnished with crumbly ricotta.
Here’s a quick and easy recipe if you fancy making it at home. It takes less than 10 minutes to whip up and is perfect for a mid-week supper that’s a little bit more impressive than the old mac ‘n’ cheese!
Ravioli with Amalfi Lemon & Ricotta
Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence Crumbly Ricotta, Shredded Spinach & Mascarpone Ravioli
50g Parmareggio butter
Prepare a mixture of ricotta, chives, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Cook the ravioli in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Drain the ravioli and move to a skillet. Finish cooking them together with the butter, some vegetable broth, a few mint leaves and a pinch of salt.
Serve the ravioli with the ricotta and lemon zest mixture on top.
Visit ciaogusto.com for more recipe ideas and ingredients
**We were guests of Ciao Gusto at Giovanni Rana and received the hamper as a gift. All opinions are my own.